Q. What are the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-EBOM, and LEED Certification?
A. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices and transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated. USGBC created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and through an open, consensus-based process led by several committees, developed the LEED Green Building Rating System (LEED GBRS) to rate buildings based on the performance of five key areas of human and environmental health – sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The LEED GBRS is made up of several rating systems with one specific for existing buildings. The LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) rating system was devised to measure operations, improvements, and maintenance procedures that maximize operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts in existing buildings. LEED-EBOM addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades. The 2009 LEED-EBOM rating system awards points for each criterion met. The points are added to provide the overall building score. Based on the score, the building may be awarded one of the following levels:
LEED Certified: 40-49 points
Silver: 50-59 points
Gold: 60-79 points
Platinum: 80 points and above
Q. Do Green Cleaning Programs and products cost more than traditional cleaning programs and products?
A. The cost of green cleaning products and programs, in most instances, is equivalent to traditional cleaning products and programs – implementing a Green Cleaning Program realizes a reduction in overall cleaning program cost by:
- Determining cleaning equipment needs and then investigating a number of green cleaning products to determine the best match for the application;
- Reducing chemical waste and waste disposal requirement;
- Reducing the amount and number of cleaning products needed;
- Causing a reduction in sick time and at-work injuries; and
- Instituting an overall green cleaning training program that includes training about product use to reduce waste and obtain the best results.
Q. What do the terms “green cleaning products” and “green cleaning” mean?
A. Green Cleaning – The terms “green cleaning products” and “green cleaning” are synonymous with environmentally sensitive cleaning products and environmentally preferred cleaning products, respectively. Green cleaning products are cleaning and maintenance products that minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment and yet clean effectively. Green cleaning is more than simply switching to green cleaning products. Green cleaning uses a holistic approach to facility cleaning and maintenance that includes green cleaning products, defined roles and responsibilities for all building occupants, a comprehensive custodial training program, and green cleaning policies and procedures. Ecologo and Green Seal are two organizations that certify some of the chemical “green cleaning products” found on the Green Cleaning Product List page.Instituting a well-designed Green Cleaning Program can provide health benefits (reduce sick days and absences), promote increased productivity and learning, reduce liability through safety training, provide cost savings, and improve cleaning efficiency. A Green Cleaning Program can also earn the facility credits towards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (http://www.usgbc.org). These credits can be obtained by meeting certain requirements under the Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) section (https://www.usgbc.org/displaypage.aspx?cmspageid=221#v2008).
Q. Do traditional cleaning products pose health risks for children?
A. Yes. There is widespread consensus among pediatric environmental health experts that chronic, low level exposures to some of the chemicals commonly found in cleaning products pose a significant health risk to children. Exposure to these substances has been associated with an increased incidence of asthma, allergies, certain types of cancer, learning and behavioural disorders, endocrine disruption, chemical sensitivity, and kidney or liver damage.
Q? What exactly is “green” cleaning?
A. “Green” cleaning generally refers to the use of products which have been developed using ingredients that have minimal impact on the environment and human health. However, there is no legal definition of “green” and no restriction on the use of the term by manufacturers.
Did You Know That…
The cleaning industry consumes six billion pounds of chemicals, including non-renewable natural resources such as petroleum, and generates 4.5 billion pounds of paper products requiring the cutting of 35 million trees annually.