When it comes to cleaning for LEED buildings, the intent is to reduce the use of chemicals and toxins that can hurt human health, building finishes, indoor air quality and the environment.
In addition, the LEED program that covers green cleaning, LEED for Existing Buildings, stipulates that program participants should use sustainable cleaning materials, products, equipment, janitorial paper products and trash bags (including microfiber tools and wipes).
It’s important to note that LEED for Existing Buildings that the purchases of green cleaning products and supplies should include items used by the in-house cleaning staff as well as any third-party cleaning service providers.
General-purpose, bathroom, glass and carpet cleaners certified as Green Seal GS-37 meet the criteria for the LEED for Existing Buildings green cleaning requirements.
These institutional cleaning products are nontoxic in their undiluted form. In addition, the undiluted versions are not corrosive to the skin, nor do they cause serious eye damage. Also, the Green Seal GS-37 standards call for products that do not include heavy metals such as lead, hexavalent chromium or selenium, ozone depleting products, carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins or ingredients that cause asthma.
Examples include Zep’s Green Link Concentrated Glass Cleaner, Zep’s Green Link Verdiza All-In-One Cleaner, Simple Green’s Clean Building All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate, Staples’ Sustainable Earth 64 Neutral Multi-Use Cleaner and Green Stripe’s Bay Safe Cleaning Concentrate.
Industrial and institutional floor care products certified as Green Seal GS-40 meet the criteria for LEED green cleaners as well.
Similar to the standards for the Green Seal GS-37, the Gree Seal GS-40 products cannot be toxic in their undiluted form, cannot contain any known carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins and the undiluted form cannot be corrosive to the skin or eyes.
In addition, the diluted, or “as used” version of the product should not contain substances that “significantly” contribute to poor air quality, nor should it be toxic to aquatic life.
Examples include Zep’s Green Link Floor Finish, Green Link Floor Stripper, State Industrial Products’ Ecolution Floor Stripper, Staples’ Sustainable Earth SEB 80 Floor Finish and Sealer and Simoniz USA’s Green Scene ZF-25 Floor Finish.
Janitorial paper products and trash bags need to meet certain standards as well.
The paper or plastic trash can liners should meet the standards set out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. In addition, the janitorial paper products in general should be derived from renewable resources and made from tree-free fibers.
The LEED for Existing Buildings guidelines stipulate that hand soaps should not contain any antimicrobial agents except where required by health codes. All Green Seal GS-41 products meet these requirements.
While the products used to clean are obviously a large concern, the cleaning equipment doesn’t get left out of the LEED considerations.
Vacuum cleaners should be certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s “Green Label” Testing Program and operate at a noise level of less than 70 decibels. Similarly, carpet extraction equipment used for restorative deep cleaning needs to be certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s “Seal of Approval” Testing Program for deep cleaning extractors.
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Editor's note: Zep is a Mother Nature Network sponsor.