Buildings that are Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certified need to meet certain requirements for construction materials and energy usage. However, people may not know that the products used within buildings, from paper towels to disinfectants, also need to be environmentally friendly. In order to meet LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance standards, building owners need to ensure that even their cleaning products are sustainable, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
Six of the 15 points a business can earn for Indoor Environmental Quality come from using eco-conscious methods and green-certified supplies. Products labeled by the U.S. Green Building Council, Green Seal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Carpet and Rug Institute are all eligible for use within LEED buildings.
Everyday cleaning products can come with a plethora of problems, according to the American Lung Association. Many of the ingredients in certain supplies can produce volatile organic compounds, which release harmful chemicals into the air. This can lead to respiratory problems, irritation of the eyes, throat and skin, allergic reactions, and headaches. Even cleaning equipment, such as vacuums and mops, can stir up health hazards by disturbing particles in the rugs and on the floor. By adhering to LEED: EBOM standards, businesses can ensure that their indoor air quality remains clean.
Credit 1 – High-Performance Cleaning Program
As with any kind of initiative, the first step is planning it out. LEED awards businesses one point just for having a green cleaning program in place. This includes intensive training programs concerning the proper use and disposal of chemicals, equipment and packaging. Building managers should also have plans outlined for which chemicals, cleaning equipment and paper products are acceptable to use – all must be sustainable or eco-friendly.
Credit 2 – Custodial Effectiveness Assessment
The next phase is to ensure that maintenance staff are following cleaning protocols. Out of the five levels described by APPA Leadership in Education Facilities' "Custodial Staffing Guidelines," the building must fall within the first three. The score is based off of visual appearance only. However, floors, walls, windows and furniture must look clean and be in working order.
Credit 3 – Purchase of Sustainable Cleaning Products and Materials
To be able to reach that APPA standard of three or less, buildings need to buy the correct items. At least 30 percent of the total annual costs must meet one or more of the requirements for the point to be awarded. Various cleaners and products, such as hand soap, disinfectants and toilet paper, have different requirements that must be met, including standards from Green Seal, EcoLogo and the EPA.
Credit 4 – Sustainable Cleaning Equipment
All machines used for maintenance, including vacuum cleaners and floor buffers, must reduce contaminants and their impact on the environment. This means using equipment certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute or the EPA. Everything needs to be quiet, highly efficient and produce low emissions. Logs also need to be kept to track usage and when repair is needed.
Credit 5 – Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control
Grills, grates and mats are required at entryways, except those only used for emergencies, to reduce the amount of dirt and contaminants that can get in from the outside. Outdoor paths should be constructed to flow water away from the building, and any flowers or plants that produce materials that can be tracked inside should be placed further away from entryways.
Credit 6 – Indoor Integrated Pest Management
Every building has the potential to attract insects and rodents. However, how they are disposed of affects a business's LEED score. All methods should be effective and low-risk, meaning only the minimum amount of chemicals should be used in strategic areas of the building. Pest management should not affect people's health in a dangerous way.
Although not all six points are required to be met to receive certification, the more credits earned means a higher LEED score. There are 110 total points in six categories that can be earned for existing buildings' operation and maintenance programs. While a minimum of 40 will get a business certified, 80 points or more will secure it a platinum score. By implementing a green cleaning program, managers will not only help the environment, but the health of maintenance workers and building staff.