More buildings are becoming LEED-certified, which means if you want them as clients, you need to offer LEED cleaning.
There are a lot of advantages to achieving and maintaining LEED certification for a building. For building managers, LEED-certified buildings have lower vacancy rates, are cost-effective, use less water and energy, and are better for building occupants. Part of maintaining that status is using LEED cleaning practices.
Before we jump into LEED cleaning credits, let’s get some background information. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) governs this green building rating system.
LEED offers rating systems for Building and Design, including new construction, retail locations, schools, data centers, and more; Operations and Maintenance, including existing buildings and hospitality; Interior Design and Construction, including commercial interiors; Building Design and Construction for single and multifamily homes; and Neighborhood Development.
Within those categories, LEED ratings are based on things like waste systems, construction materials, availability of sunlight, energy efficiency, and environmental impact. For example, in the Operations and Maintenance section for existing buildings, you can earn up to 110 credits (including four levels of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum).
This may seem like a lot, and it is. But as a commercial cleaning business, you won’t need to worry about most of it. Even as a BSC, many of the credits come from building design and construction. However, it is important to understand why LEED cleaning credits are significant and how they fit into the overall LEED certification process. So what does a building manager need to get these credits?
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What LEED cleaning credits mean to you
For most commercial cleaning companies and facilities managers hiring you, LEED cleaning credits fall under the Operations and Maintenance checklist, and then within that, the Indoor Environmental Quality section. In order to attain credits here, there are four requirements: a Green Cleaning Policy is a prerequisite, followed by Green Cleaning-Custodial Effectiveness Assessment, Green Cleaning-Products and Materials, and Green Cleaning-Equipment.
What does this all mean to you?
The very short answer is that you can expect to follow the highest and most stringent green cleaning standards in order to help your clients meet LEED cleaning credit requirements. This includes using products that qualify for the EPA Design for the Environment Logo for Antimicrobial Pesticide. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of each section.
Green Cleaning Policy
Establish and maintain a green cleaning policy that includes such points as purchasing sustainable cleaning products, creating cleaning protocols that “protect vulnerable building occupants,” and detailing the ” safe handling and storage of cleaning chemicals used in the building, including a plan for managing hazardous spills or mishandling incidents.”
Green Cleaning-Custodial Effectiveness Assessment
This LEED cleaning credit ensures routine inspections and annual audits to guarantee the implementation of green cleaning practices.
Green Cleaning-Products and Materials
Green cleaning products need to meet a number of requirements. For example, disposable paper products must be FSC certified, “derived from rapidly renewable resources,” meet the requirements of Green Seal GS-01, UL EcoLogo 175, or similar. In addition, general-purpose cleaning products need to meet standards such as Green Seal GS-37, UL EcoLogo 2795, EPA Safer Choice Standard, or equivalent standards.
Additionally, new options for LEED cleaning products include those accredited by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council as part of their GBAC Star Facility Accreditation. These products and cleaning practices were established to “control and/or minimize risk associated with infectious agents such as SARS-CoV-2 (responsible for COVID-19 disease) for employees, customers, clients, visitors, the community, and the environment.”
This credit requires “janitorial equipment that reduces building contaminants and minimizes environmental impact.” For example, vacuum cleaners and carpet extraction equipment need certification from the Carpet and Rug Institute, and equipment should operate quietly and with minimal vibrations.
Again, this may seem like an overwhelming task. Really, though, these are just good business practices blended with green cleaning. Create a green cleaning policy, follow through with regular inspections, use effective cleaning products that have a minimal environmental impact, and use commercial cleaning machinery in good working order that conserves energy and is ergonomically designed.
If you offer green cleaning services, you may already have the practices in place to work with building contractors and managers who are looking for LEED cleaning credits.
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