Taking a leadership position in green cleaning helps achieve the three P’s of sustainability by benefitting People, Planet, and Profits.
Per US Executive Order No. 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance: “Green cleaning is the use of products and services that have a reduced impact on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose” (Ref 1).
The US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most widely respected green building and facility operations rating system in the world.
How to LEED with Green Cleaning
LEED guidelines for in-house operations stipulate a green cleaning policy, green-validated products, procedures, and tracking performance inside and outside of a building “to reduce levels of chemical, biological, and particulate contaminants that can compromise air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems, and the environment” (Ref 2).
As a prerequisite, LEED V4 Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance (EBOM) requires in-house operations have a green cleaning policy embracing:
- goals and strategies; standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- green cleaning methods, materials, and services
Green Cleaning Policy
SOPs cover systematic daily work; cleaning and maintaining floors; use of cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizers; protecting vulnerable populations; hand hygiene; management; and auditing for quality assurance. SOPs also specify staff training in the use, handling, disposal, and recycling of chemicals, equipment, and packaging.
If a facility uses a contractor to clean, LEED requires the service provider be certified and audited under:
- Green Seal’s Environmental Standard for Commercial Cleaning Services (GS-42); or
- ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard for Green Buildings (CIMS-GB)
The contractor must also meet requirements like those for in-house operations.
The goal is high-performance cleaning for prevention or removal of contaminants, and to avoid or reduce harm to the environment.
LEED also requires a “process to obtain occupant and custodial staff input and feedback” on the cleaning program, and “continuous improvement to evaluate new technologies, procedures and processes.”
LEED with ECA
One process with success in sectors such as food processing and commercial produce washing, but new to much of the professional cleaning field, is on-site generation of ElectroChemically Activated (ECA) solutions.
One ECA system uses softened water, salt and electricity to make two solutions, a Green Seal-certified cleaning solution and an EPA-registered disinfectant.
ECA systems are specifically mentioned by LEED for green cleaning:
“Cleaning devices that use only ionized water or electrolyzed water and have third-party-verified performance data …” are recognized under LEED as part of an approved green cleaning program (Ref 3).
On-site generated solutions cost a fraction of what off-the-shelf products do, and yield quick ROI, especially via equipment rental programs.
ECA helps enable chemical and solid waste reductions plus other environment benefits required by LEED because:
- On-site generated cleaners and disinfectants can replace up to 97% of petrochemical and packaged cleaning products.
- ECA eliminates buying and offsite production, shipping, storing, handling and disposal of legacy solutions and packaging.
- Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, U.S. President Barack Obama, October 5, 2009
- LEED V4 Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance (EBOM)