Some traditional cleaning materials, processes and equipment pose risks to the health of users, operators, and others exposed to cleaning activities, as well as the environment into which these activities and materials are introduced.
Cleaning materials may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carcinogens, reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, and/or ingredients that cause or exacerbate respiratory or dermatological problems or which break down into suspected aquatic toxins or endocrine disruptors.
Cleaning activities and equipment may introduce and/or recirculate dust and particulates that can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems, cause damage to building finishes and equipment, use excessive amounts of water and/or energy, generate excessive noise, or cause injuries to janitorial staff due to poor ergonomics.
Green janitorial services typically encompass standard operating procedures to protect janitorial staff and building occupants (taking into account vulnerable populations); proper equipment and its associated maintenance; efficient and appropriate use of cleaning products to limit waste and exposure; adequate communication to building management and training of janitorial staff; reporting and transparency.
Use of green cleaning products and services is one of the factors that count toward Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification of existing green buildings.
Environmentally Preferable Janitorial Services
Cleaning services should be either certified by Green Seal, or held to similar performance by contract requirements. The Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services GS-42 establishes environmental requirements for cleaning service providers of commercial, public, and institutional buildings, including in-house and external cleaning services, to create a green cleaning program that protects human health and the environment. The emphasis is on reducing toxicity, waste, and exposure to both building occupants and custodial staff. The Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services GS-42 is available online at:
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