Improving CG Practices
By Grace Bell
IMPROVING CG PRACTICES
Selection of products is just part of the green cleaning quotient. Training custodial staff and changing the protocols of your cleaning program can also make a big impact on how effective your cleaning green program is. The following guidelines, reproduced from the website www.responsiblepurchasing.com, offer suggestions on how to maximize green cleaners’ benefits:
- Streamline procurement processes so that only those cleaners necessary for established uses are purchased.
- Improve employee training to ensure that custodial workers are using cleaning products properly. If workers are misusing products (whether they are conventional or green), facilities might be spending more money than necessary and be missing the greatest opportunities to protect human health, the environment, and the value of built facilities.
- Use better cleaning equipment. Place doormats at entryways to prevent dirt from entering buildings. Use microfiber mops and cloths to reduce the need for cleaning chemicals. Use high efficiency filtration vacuum cleaners to reduce the cleaning chemicals. Use high efficiency filtration vacuum cleaners to reduce the dust generated by older vacuum technologies. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filtration Systems are up to 99.97% efficient in removing particles as small as 0.3 microns.
- Clean by need rather than schedule, especially for highly polluting cleaning activities. For example, some institutions are forgoing scheduled floor stripping in favor of flexible timelines that allow floors to be stripped only when needed.
This strategy is encouraged by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for existing buildings. U.S. federal agencies, and others using federal funds are required to buy recycled-content products, including custodial supplies such as paper towels, tissue products, and trash bags. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends recycled-content percentages for these and other products at in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. See Policies section (www.responsiblepurchasingnetowrk.org) for details.
- Choose third-party certified products. The easiest way to choose healthier cleaning products with lower environmental impacts is to look for third party certification, such as Green Seal or EcoLogo.
- Choose bio-based products. Seek “bio-based” products containing material derived from soybeans, corn, wheat cotton, and other agricultural products. Generally speaking, bio-based active ingredients have less of an impact on the environment because they are able to biodegrade quickly without the release of harmful chemical byproducts. Efforts to develop and stimulate the use of bio-based products through federal legislation dates back to 1999. Executive Order 13134 (1999) requires the federal procurement of bio-based products.