Most cleaning crews burn the midnight oil, long after tenants are gone. But some facilities find that by moving janitorial services to the day shift, they can keep the lights off at night and cut down on their electricity bills.
“Day cleaning is a somewhat new trend in the sustainable cleaning industry,” says Jennifer Shramo, regional vice president of DCS Global Enterprise LP, which helps companies transition to day cleaning.
There’s no one formula to make the transition. It involves coordination with tenants to move most, if not all, janitorial services to the dayshift. Although day cleaning may not be as effective for a building with 24-hour operations, it’s a logical step for many office buildings that follow a traditional business schedule.
Electricity Savings from Switching to Day Cleaning
DCS starts by determining how much a conversion would save in energy costs. "We’re finding there’s about a four to eight percent energy savings in converting," says Shramo, who is also a fellow with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).
For example, Dave Burrill, director of management at Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Ryan Cos. US Inc., oversees property management for a mixed-use building with numerous tenants, some of which use day cleaning services. The health care corporate headquarters located in the building now has eight percent lower energy costs than other comparable buildings because of its transition to day cleaning.
But some savings may result from reductions in man-hours as well. “You typically have a day porter for the restrooms,” Burrill says. So when day cleaners are brought in, he explains, that reduces the time necessary to do the job.
Shramo agrees. She projects that converting one 95,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with T12 lighting fixtures to day cleaning will save more than $30,000 a year: $18,000 in energy savings and $12,000 by eliminating a part-time custodian. And both say that because communication increases between cleaning staff and occupants, the perception of service goes up.
Transitioning Your Business to a Day Cleaning Schedule
The transition from night to day cleaning involves more than shifting workers’ schedules. You’ll need to locate past energy bills, determine how much cleaning is done at night and how many of those hours can be shifted to daytime.
Anything that determines nighttime energy usage needs to be considered. Are any areas off limits to custodial staff during the day because of noise restrictions? Do computers automatically shut down?
“One of the pitfalls for companies converting to daylight cleaning is communication of the transition to employees and tenants in the facilities,” Shramo says. To make day cleaning a success, her company estimates the potential energy savings, builds a tenant communications program, and then implements the actual program after educating the custodial team. After the switch is implemented, Shramo follows up with audits and questionnaires to gauge the program’s effectiveness.
Accommodate Your Tenants
The more you find out about the habits of the workforce, the smoother the transition will go. That includes finding out what parts of the buildings are conducive to day cleaning. Reach out to people—speak with parking lot employees to find out how many people work after hours.
On the day of the change, post reminders in the lobby. Afterward, stay in touch with tenants to provide opportunity for feedback.
If certain spaces can’t be interrupted, there may be a way to work around them. Some companies cut costs by making a partial shift to daytime to accommodate occupants, and reserve vacuuming for before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. One of Shramo’s clients has a tenant that holds mediations in conference rooms that can’t be disturbed. Her service created an operation with the custodial contractor that cleaned the available office space in the daytime and the conference space was cleaned just after the close of their business day at 5 p.m.
Overcoming Daytime Hurdles
“The biggest issue is probably the noise,” Burrill says. Some companies invest in quiet vacuum cleaners, non-motorized carpet sweepers or cordless battery-operated equipment. Others shift the noisier activities off-hours.
Also, more foot traffic means an increased chance of accidents, so make sure that cleaning staff are especially mindful of cords and any other obstacles. Shramo adds, “You have to be very careful with the wet work in areas such as restrooms and vinyl floors.” Additional signage, rugs or other protections to warn workers of wet areas can help.
Finally, if cleaning is happening near employees, be sure that environmentally friendly tools are being used, such as microfiber dusters and vacuums that don’t particulate. Frayed vacuum cords and dirty equipment will quickly turn tenants off no matter how much money is saved.