By Arthur Weissman, Ph.D, Green Seal President/CEO
Covered with grease from head to toe, the mechanic came running to me from underneath the mail truck he was maintaining. I smiled appreciatively at his interest, but had to tell him that I was just gathering background information in my inspection of his facility.
Back in the mid-1990s, when Green Seal branched out to work with Federal agencies and other institutions to help green their operations, we had the opportunity to work with the Southeast Region of the US Postal Service on developing a standard for fleet vehicle maintenance facilities. USPS ran the world’s largest fleet, and their sustainability person realized that they could show leadership by making significant environmental improvements in how they maintained the fleet. I went on several tours of USPS facilities in Florida and Georgia to look at best practices, which I supplemented by research and comparison with other large fleet operators.
But what lingered in my mind was the mechanic’s enthusiasm. In fact, it was shared by other USPS fleet staff as well. So when the standard was completed and the certification program started, Green Seal and USPS talked about flying the certification mark on a flag above approved facilities and displaying it in large banners on their walls.
More than fifteen years later, the commitment a company makes to sustainability continues to excite employees and boost morale. We saw this last year in awarding Green Seal certification to the internal cleaning services of Howard County, Maryland, Public Schools and the University of Maryland at College Park. Both entities celebrated their certification in public forums: I was proud to present the award at a meeting of the County School Board and to the University at the ISSA Show. The University followed up with a celebratory breakfast, and they participated in a video we put together showcasing their achievement and its value for students, faculty, and staff. In all these cases, the cleaning staff – janitors and janitorial supervisors – was present and all were thrilled by the award they received.
As well they should be. Achieving a leadership standard requires vision, hard work, and perseverance. Management should recognize that in addition to all the benefits certification brings in terms of health, environment, and cost savings, employee morale gets a significant boost as well. For workers at every level of an organization want to feel they are doing something worthwhile. Hearing constantly about society’s environmental problems amidst the humdrum of their daily routines and often monotonous tasks, they are energized to learn that they are, after all, contributing to the betterment of the world.