Facilities that are not properly cared for can potentially result in the ‘sick building syndrome’, whereby office workers are commonly affected with symptoms such as headaches and respiratory problems. There is much debate around the definition, validity and cause of the syndrome but according to medicinenet.com “...known causes of illness such as lead poisoning, formaldehyde fumes, and many others have been associated with individual buildings.” It is no secret that a facility (where people are often working for many hours of the day) that is green and free of harmful radicals and chemicals, is a healthier environment for employees.
According to FMLink, “High-performance buildings are characterised by their efficient use of resources and their ability to enhance the safety, health, and productivity of occupants. The Energy Independence and Security Act of the United States identified the following characteristics of a high-performance building in 2017: Reduced water, energy and material use, improved indoor environmental quality, reduced negative impact on the environment, increased use of environmentally preferable products, increased reuse and recycling, integrated systems in buildings, reduced environmental and energy impacts of transportation, consideration of the effects of the building on human health.”
Based on these characteristics, environmentally friendly, green cleaning products are an asset to facilities management as they help to improve and maintain the indoor environment of the facilities. The organic nature of these products reduces the negative impact that their chemically manufactured counterparts have on the environment, as well as on the health of employees working in the buildings.
While reducing instances of sick building syndrome, these products are also often more cost-effective, requiring less water and cutting the amount of product needed to clean a facility by 50 percent. “This saves resources, while cutting down financial expenditure,” explains John J. Coetzee, CEO at Green Worx Cleaning Solutions. “Many facility managers have started taking the green working environment very seriously, and with positive results. Green buildings are becoming more commonplace as healthy environments emerge as the new desired goal.”
With the Facilities Management Expo recently having been held in Johannesburg, South Africa, May is quickly becoming recognised as the month of FM. Many sustainability goals are being set, with their achievement being seen as major accomplishments.
One such triumph was the recent launch of the Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA) new offices, situated in Rosebank. Officially opened on 8 May, “the offices have been designed and built to be completely green. Grahame Cruickshanks, Managing Executive at GBCSA says that every item from the light fittings and air conditioning to the recycled furniture used in the décor, has been carefully selected to be environmentally friendly,” states Leading Architecture and Design.
Coetzee was among the guests to attend the event, representing Green Worx and its donation of year’s supply of green cleaning products, helping to keep the GBCSA offices as sustainable as possible. “We are happy to do whatever we can to support such a wonderful endeavour. The GBCSA’s dedication to sustainable, eco-friendly office spaces should be an example to other South African businesses. They’re working hard to create a cleaner, greener and smarter corporate South Africa.”
These greener, more sustainable spaces help to maintain the desired effect of healthier environments for people to work in.