Why Green

Who Cares About Green Pressure Washing?

By Aaron Muller

That’s a great question. Why should property managers care about using an eco-friendly pressure washing service? The answer is that the market landscape has changed.

Today more than ever, tenants and property owners are looking for property managers who can implement sustainability initiatives at their buildings. According to Norm Miller at CoStar, “In the long run buildings that do not include sustainable features run the very real risk of becoming obsolete. And it will likely be very risky to own buildings that do not have sustainable features in the future.”

When most property managers think of sustainability, they think of getting their buildings LEED certified or performing energy efficiency retrofits. While upgrading the building on the construction side gets most of the attention, what is often missed is becoming more sustainable on the operations and maintenance side. Sustainability is more than a checklist used during construction. Sustainability is thinking about how a building can go green in every way possible — including the selection of vendors and how the vendor’s policies reflect on the sustainability initiative at one’s property.

A great example of property managers failing to incorporate sustainability into everything they do is the selection of pressure washing vendors. Pressure washing is one of those items on the preventative maintenance checklist that often does not get a lot of thought. Sure, proactive property managers understand the importance of preventative maintenance. They understand that keeping surfaces clean can limit the damage to painted surfaces. They know that keeping the property clean is essential to creating a positive first impression for customers and residents. But beyond getting the building pressure washed on a regular basis, most property managers don’t think about the eco-friendliness of their pressure washing vendor.

Pressure washing, as it turns out, is a job that has a sizeable environmental impact. For starters, traditional pressure washing technology can waste thousands of gallons of water on a job for a typical commercial property. If the pressure washing company requires a water source at the building, it is the building owner that pays for the water usage, which increases the operating expenses and decreases the net operating income. In contrast, green pressure washers can often bring their own source of water to the job site. Not only do they save water costs for the owner, but they can also pressure wash areas with no access to water.

Another difference between traditional and eco-friendly pressure washers is their treatment of wastewater. When all the grease, oil, and gum run down the storm water drains, it becomes an environmental disaster. In the Seattle area, for instance, toxic pollutants travel through the storm water system and get deposited into Puget Sound, causing the toxicity levels to build up in the local fish and crabs. The Puget Sound orcas have gained a great deal of national attention because they have become so toxic that they are listed as an endangered species by the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. Caused in part by the national attention of Puget Sound orcas being featured in the PBS Frontline documentary “Poisoned Waters”, the EPA is particularly monitoring the actions of property managers in the greater Seattle area. Should any oil or grease run down the drains during a pressure washing job, the property owner can get fined heavily by the EPA. Newer green pressure washing technologies ensure that none of the harmful pollutants run down the drains, and allow up to 98% of the wastewater to be vacuumed up and recycled so almost no water is wasted. Choosing an eco-friendly pressure washer becomes not only a good environmental investment, but also a smart financial investment that limits the building owner’s liability.

Finally, choosing an eco-friendly pressure washing vendor can enhance the property’s tenant satisfaction and retention program. Traditional pressure washing companies use harsh chemicals during the cleaning process, which are harmful to the environment, the landscaping at the property, and potentially the health of employees and residents nearby. In contrast, green pressure washing companies use biodegradable detergents that promote a healthy living and working environment. Property managers can capitalize on this opportunity and incorporate the use of green vendors into their marketing materials to attract new tenants and keep the existing tenants satisfied.

So who cares about green pressure washing? The answer is that the tenants care, the building owners care, and the regulatory agencies care. This means the property managers should care. Going green is no longer a luxury, but a necessity that pays off financially and minimizes liability. Choosing green vendors, therefore, should become a vital component of a property’s preventive maintenance program.

About the Author

Aaron Muller is the President of Mr. PressureWash, a company that specializes in eco-friendly pressure washing services for apartments, commercial buildings, and parking garages in the greater Seattle area. For more information, visit www.mrpressurewash.net

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