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Fostering Sustainability with Specialized Surface Maintenance

Sustainable building materials are an important part of sustainability efforts, and proper maintenance can help achieve environmental goals.

Holly Borrego, Head of Cleaning Products and Performance – Americas

Reducing energy consumptionimproving waste management, and decarbonizing kitchens are some ways organizations can move toward more sustainable business practices. The use of high-quality, sustainable building materials and finishes are another way to reduce the environmental impact of commercial facilities. Not only are materials like stone, tile, and hardwood visually appealing, they help make buildings long-lasting. Of course, proper maintenance is essential to the longevity of most sustainable materials like granite, terrazzo, porcelain, decorative metals, cork, and hardwoods.


Sustainable materials that don’t require replacement or renovation after a few short years of wear and tear can make a big difference in reducing raw material consumption and additional carbon emissions, costs, and disruptions from construction. ISS provides specialized surface cleaning solutions that extend the life of assets and heighten a client’s reputation with visitors and facility users — making life easier, businesses more productive, and facilities more enjoyable to visit. ISS reaches these outcomes by delivering services to high standards by people who care.

A Little Effort Goes a Long Way

Facility assets like carpets, specialized surfaces, and windows require regular maintenance like any asset in a quality integrated facilities management solution, and on occasion, specialized cleaning practices to maintain their longevity. ISS recommends using a professional cleaning service for specialized surface cleaning to ensure proper chemicals and techniques are used. 

Specialized Surface Cleaning

Stone, tile, and decorative metals make facilities shine and impress visitors. Performing regular maintenance is an important first step in maintaining specialized surfaces, but deep cleaning can preserve their life even longer. 

Stone and tile are often used throughout commercial facilities and can last for decades when upkept properly. Nearly every commercial building uses concrete in some way or another and in some commercial spaces, polished concrete floors may be used in place of decorative tile or commercial carpet. 

The Problem with Concrete

Making concrete requires huge amounts of sand — half a cubic yard per yard of concrete mixed. According to The Guardian, “Sand mining is causing environmental damage worldwide.” The amount of sand that’s available for mining around the world is limited and currently, mining activities outweigh its replenishment. In the same vein, regulations for how much, how often, and in what way sand can be mined vary across the globe. This often leaves ecosystems damaged and mining companies unaccountable.

Concrete is also a major contributor to global CO2 emissions. Chatham House reports that 8% of global CO2 emissions are cause by the 4 billion tons of concrete manufactured each year.

Concrete is used for much more than polished floors in commercial real estate, but this is often the concrete in commercial buildings that requires resurfacing or replacement due to a lack of maintenance. Facility managers should think carefully about the environmental impacts of replacement when organizing maintenance.

ISS recommends working with facility management teams to determine what can be done beyond regular cleaning to maintain these assets for years to come.

Interior industrial cement loft design concept modern home office

Window Cleaning

Windows are an essential asset in commercial buildings. They shield occupants from the elements, draw in sunlight to conserve energy, and connect those inside with the world outdoors. Most would find it near impossible not to admire a city view or a terraced garden when a window offers the chance. 

Glass production
 requires high amounts of heat to perform the melting process. This process is the biggest environmental concern in the manufacture of glass. The combustion of fuel generates carbon dioxide during the melting process. In addition, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide particles may be released into the atmosphere when evaporation occurs during the process. By allowing windows or glass to be replaced prematurely, facilities contribute to these environmental impacts second hand.

Keeping windows clean not only preserves a building’s view, but it also ensures that assets last. Although building owners may see cost savings by cleaning windows annually or bi-annually, ISS suggests quarterly cleaning to prevent wear and shorter life expectancies. 

Carpet Cleaning

Did you know that regular and deep maintenance can extend a carpet’s life by up to 10 years? Most commercial facilities have some areas where carpet is installed. Although carpet has a shorter life than tile or hardwood, with proper care and maintenance, carpet can last for years beyond its expected life.

According to the EPA, more than 4 billion pounds of carpet end up in landfills in the U.S. as solid waste each year. That’s a staggering 1% by weight or nearly 2% by volume of municipal solid waste. By not maintaining carpets, facility owners may be increasing their environmental impact and taking a loss on their investment.

It can be difficult to perform deep carpet cleaning with full offices, but fluctuating occupancy is opening new opportunities for facility managers to perform maintenance beyond regular cleaning activities. Friday is the new Sunday and as hybrid work schedules leave offices nearly empty at the end of the week, it’s an excellent time to perform carpet cleaning tasks. ISS recommends deep cleaning that removes more than just visible stains, but dirt and grime from daily traffic.

Sustainability That Reaches Beyond the Building

Proper maintenance benefits the life of specialized surfaces, but when performed correctly, it can also reduce the use of cleaning chemicals and the amount of chemicals disposed of in wastewater. Maintaining assets also means less materials reaching the landfill where they can potentially leach harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazards. 

Using the correct techniques and cleaning practices is an important part of fostering a sustainable community and workforce, too. By training cleaning staff to use machines when required, how to handle chemicals safely, and how to work ergonomically, facility management teams can provide a high-quality work environment where people want to be. In many ways, developing and training employees to work smart is as important as developing a 
safety culture.

Not only does this improve the overall satisfaction of the facility workforce, but it also contributes to better communities and engaged placemakers who enjoy arriving to work each day. Sustainability isn’t just about reducing environmental impacts that can be measured on a sliding scale, but nurturing sustainable practices that keep people safe and healthy while improving the places in which they live and work. 

Fostering Sustainable Outcomes through Facility Services

Creating an environment where people choose to be requires a myriad of placemaking and culture-building activities in today’s world. Maintaining high standards of hygiene and cleanliness not only impresses visitors to any facility but engenders pride for regular occupants and facility staff. Maintaining assets so they last as long as possible also shows an organization’s commitment to a sustainable future. 

Consider reaching out to an 
ISS expert today to discuss ways in which ISS can help maintain the longevity of your assets. 

About the Author

Holly Borrego

Head of Cleaning Products and Performance – Americas

Contact Hollymailto:holly.borrego@us.issworld.com?subject=Inquiry