From omnipresent hand sanitizer, to “sealed for your protection” messages on fast-food containers, the pandemic has put disinfection on our collective radar. And, when it comes to commercial facilities, one certification not only ensures cleanliness, but also a level of disinfection that means safety: ISSA’s CIMS certification.
But who is ISSA AND what does CIMS certification entail?
And how do you know what truly protects a facility’s occupants and if your chosen custodial services providers are meeting the mark?
A valuable certification from ISSA, formerly known as the International Sanitary Supply Association, can offer assurance.
Known as “the worldwide cleaning industry association,” ISSA oversees the stringent Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) certification.
According to ISSA, CIMS certification “is proof your company follows the proper use of disinfection products and follows the stringent manufacturer procedures for proper use.”
Achieving this certification, per ISSA, can also empower organizations to:
- Develop best practices
- Operate more efficiently
- Validate performance and quality
But what, really, does this translate to? What does it mean to be CIMS certified? And, taking certification a step further, what’s required to achieve CIMS certification with Honors or CIMS Green Building (CIMS GB) certification?
CIMS Certification: The Gold Standard for Cleaning
Put simply, to be CIMS Certified means an organization has taken cleaning and disinfection beyond the hype.
CIMS-certified cleaning service providers represent the top one-quarter of one percent of all cleaning services. To achieve CIMS certification, an organization must demonstrate compliance in five core areas:
- Quality systems
- Service delivery
- Human resources
- Management commitment
- Health, safety, and environmental stewardship
Organizational performance in these areas is measured against the ISSA CIMS standard. And if an organization scores high enough, they are granted certification “with Honors.”
The CIMS standard offers a management framework designed to ensure customer satisfaction, quality, and efficiency—three things that Brenda Sanchez, Custodial Program Integrator at PRIDE Industries, understands.
“Compliance with the standard demonstrates that a cleaning operation is structured to deliver consistent, quality services designed to meet the customer’s needs and expectations,” says Sanchez.
With the pandemic, these needs and expectations expanded, with safety becoming paramount.
“CIMS certification also underscores a key message to building occupants: It is safe to use this building, even during a pandemic,” Sanchez goes on to say. “This provides significant peace of mind in every workplace.”
How to Become CIMS Certified
The CIMS certification process begins with an internal review of an organization’s cleaning procedures.
ISSA then evaluates these procedures against the CIMS standard.
During this process, an independent ISSA assessor reviews supporting documentation. Next, the assessor conducts an on-site review of the applicant’s systems, processes, and documentation.
In addition, the assessor may visit the applicant’s customers or locations. A detailed review helps ensure consistency of cleaning processes and systems.
High-scoring applicants may then be awarded the CIMS certification with Honors, as was the PRIDE Industries team that Brenda Sanchez supports.
Sanchez oversaw a successful recertification process, including on-site audits in Sacramento, Calif. The final report recognized the “excellent progress” made by all team members “in taking CIMS to the next level and implementing ongoing process improvement.”
“I’m grateful to have been part of PRIDE’s journey as a CIMS certified service provider since our initial certification in 2013,” she says.
“I’m proud of the process improvement in conjunction with the integration of our best practices and lessons learned from our standardized processes and procedures. It’s exciting to see the move from being reactive to highly optimized, offering our customers consistency in service level and efficiency.”
CIMS Certification and Sustainability
As much as safety has come to the fore, so has how it’s achieved. If your hand sanitizer’s packaging will stick around a landfill for the next 500 years, should this be factored into its overall benefit? The jury may be out on that one, but, overall, customers and investors alike are becoming more socially conscious—and looking for the same in their facilities management partners.
“Green” building practices are becoming a business imperative as well as a social one, and ISSA has taken this into consideration. In addition to their core areas of assessment, green building practices can also be considered for CIMS-GB (Green Building) certification.
As a “sixth dimension of CIMS,” CIMS-GB certification offers customers assurance that an organization is prepared to partner with them in the LEED process,” according to ISSA.
LEED refers to “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” which is a green building rating system managed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
Per ISSA, CIMS-GB vendors are considered capable of helping “secure points under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance Green Building Rating System.”
By focusing on environmental improvements, a CIMS-GB certification encourages sustainability best practices in facility management.
“There is a lot of value in partnering with a company that is CIMS-GB certified,” Sanchez says. “It tells customers that this organization has conformed to the requirements set forth and has demonstrated compliance to an independent, accredited assessor.”
The expertise of a GB-certified vendor can also pay dividends for investors.
“LEED helps investors implement management practices to prioritize building efficiency, decrease operational costs, increase asset value and ensure productivity, comfort, health and wellbeing for occupants,” according to the USGBC.
But, for today’s investors, green practices are about more than the bottom line.
“Today’s investors are more environmentally aware,” says Sanchez. “When it comes to sustainability, they care that we care.”