Stephen Askin, who is often called the ‘Father of Green Cleaning’, refers to green cleaning as being ‘best thought of as a concept or thought process that focuses on creating a healthy, safe and attractive building while minimizing harmful impacts.’
Green cleaning is closely tied to the concept of sustainability and the triple bottom line. It is beneficial to the organization, the employees, and the planet, as well as the individuals using the products. Studies show increased staff productivity (up to 7%), decreased staff absenteeism, and decreased turnover of janitorial personnel as a result of using green cleaning products.
To date, there are four commonly accepted certifications in the commercial green cleaning sector, in North America and Europe:
- Green Seal is the most recognized and more prevalent in the United States. Green Seal started out certifying products inthecommercialsector and now provides not only certification for green custodial products but also training on green cleaning procedures, among other services. It is also beginning to certify products in the residential sector.
- EcoLogo is another environmental standard and certification mark, started in Canada, which is gaining ground in the United States andwhich also has rigorous standards for certification. Started by TerraChoice, EcoLogo focuses on the commercial as well as residential market.
- Thirdly, the EPA’s Design for the Environment’s DfE label can be obtained by manufacturers for products that ‘meet stringent criteria for human and environmental health’.
- Finally, Ecolabel is the commonly accepted certification standard in the European Union. Ecolabel addresses both commercial and residential products and services.
There are an increasing number of resources and companies offering green custodial services. Be sure to verify the products and processes that they use, ask them if these are certified by a third-party, and check in periodically with the cleaning crew to ensure that the products are being used as agreed.