An online survey conducted by AlturaSolutions Communications asked facility managers, janitorial and sanitation manufacturers, distributors, and facility service providers their thoughts about becoming more sustainable. Approximately 1,000 e-mail invitations were distributed, and about 100 people completed the survey.

Asked about the definition of sustainability, 53 percent were correct, indicating it refers to “balancing financial, human, and (the use of) natural resources.”

The second highest number, 26 percent, believed it pertained solely to the responsible use of natural resources.

Slightly more than 63 percent of respondents indicated they plan to increase their organization's emphasis on sustainability over the next 12 months. The remainder indicated no changes were planned or they did not know.

Other findings included:

• Asked if their companies planned to look for ways to monitor their sustainability, 47 percent of respondents said yes, 32 percent said no, and 21 percent were not sure.

• Questioned as to what most will encourage their firms to be more sustainable in the near future, 47 percent indicted their drive came from the belief that it is the “right thing to do.”

The other respondents were evenly divided, believing new government regulations or demands from major clients would encourage them to become more sustainable.

The economy’s impact on sustainability also was questioned. More than 47 percent indicated that if difficult economic times continue, it will “have little impact” on their ongoing plans to become more sustainable; nearly as many indicated tough economic times will encourage them to become more sustainable because of the “potential cost savings.”

The last item on the survey asked respondents if their organizations become more sustainable, do they plan to let others know. Although 21 percent said they did not know and 5 percent said no, 74 percent said yes.