The “STATE” of Cleaning Green
While the majority of states remain reluctant to mandate green cleaning, especially in an economy that’s been challenging for businesses, more and more states are at least looking into at least recommending green products for cleaning.
Here’s a rundown of which ones currently have recommendations or regulations on the books or in the legislature. While most limit their reach to public school buildings, a few states, like Illinois, have gone beyond the educational arena to mandate cleaning green in all public buildings.
• CALIFORNIA: A Green Buildings Standard Code went into effect in 2009 and mandates green building practices in all new construction. Re. cleaning products, the State’s Best Practices Manual reads: “Choosing less-hazardous products can minimize harmful impacts to custodial workers, improve indoor air quality, and reduce water pollution.”
• CONNECTICUT: Requires green cleaning in all state buildings as well as school districts. The latest addition to the legislation there specifies that products in a few categories (like floor-care and hand cleaning) must be Green Seal- or Eco Logo-certified. In addition, by next summer, schools must ONLY use clean green products.
• HAWAII: Enacted in 2009, HB 1538 gives priority (“to be purchased when feasible”) to Green Seal products, and dictates that public school buildings must, in legalese, “maintain” a list of green cleaning products. Wording specifies that schools use such products “when feasible.”
• ILLINOIS: HB 2737, passed in 2009, mandates that all state buildings “create and maintain” a green cleaning policy/program. Beyond that, purchasing in six specified categories must be consistent with the state’s Green Cleaning for Schools Act, which was passed two years earlier.
• IOWA: House File 823 is currently under consideration and is slated to be debated in March, 2010. At very least, schools would have to conduct an assessment re. green cleaning products. There would be an opt-out option for the state’s school districts, however, with adoption of green cleaning products required by districts not opting out by 2012. The state government has already been cleaning green for two years.
• MARYLAND: HB 1363 legislates that school boards must buy green products for cleaning K-12 schools and classrooms. The legislation is more specific than that of many states and both defines green products (by listing several environmentally correct attributes that must be met) and requires that products chosen be certified.
• MAINE: In 2007, the state opted to “promote” the introduction of programs for cleaning green in schools rather than the specific use or mandating of products.
• MASSACHUSETTS: First proposed in 2007, the bill would require the state to prepare a list of healthy cleaning products and prohibit using any products not on the list in schools, hospitals, health care facilities, day care centers, public buildings, or public housing.
• MISSOURI: Two years ago, the legislature detailed guidelines, as opposed to absolute requirements, for the state’s public schools. The initial bill was modified from mandating requirements before the governor signed it.
• MAINE: While most states specify products, Maine’s regulations, passed in 2007, were the country’s first to recommend complete green cleaning programs for schools, including procedures for same, that must be certified.
• NEVADA: Passed last year, but effective this July, Bill 185 states that public schools must utilize green products for cleaning floors. Individual school districts may mandate additional surfaces beyond flooring that must be green cleaned.
• NEW JERSEY: A 2006 Executive Order requires all state departments, authorities, “and instrumentalities” to purchase products that are certified by EcoLogo, DfE, or Green Seal.
• MINNESOTA: In the legislative sessions that began in February, the State’s Healthy Legacy is focusing on cleaning green in state buildings and schools.
• NEW YORK: Broader than the legislation in many states, New York mandates products in five cleaning areas (glass, bathroom, etc.,) in addition to floor finish and stripping products, vacuums, and soaps. The empire state was also the nation’s first to pass cleaning requirements for grades K-12 schools.
• VERMONT: Starting in 2004 and enhanced multiple times, Vermont has very detailed requirements involving all state-owned buildings. In addition to meeting other specifications, products must meet Green Seal specs.
WISCONSIN. The State of Wisconsin is currently “considering” the Green Cleaning For A Healthier Wisconsin proposal, which would require schools to use certified cleaning and paper products.
Several other states had proposals of various sorts on the table last year, including Minnesota, Oregon, and Rhode Island. While this list leaves most of the 50 dots on the U.S. map to yet act on a statewide basis, school districts within a number of those states have initiated their own, individualized cleaning green programs.