Green your life at home, work & play

Green Custodial Services – things to be aware of if looking for a vendor December 19, 2010

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.


Determining the legitimacy of a green certification November 5, 2010

If you’re looking to ‘green’ your building or operations and are confused about which products and services are truly ‘green’, you’re not alone. There are many certifications on the market today – some are legitimate, while others have a way to go. Companies can make self-reported claims or obtaina legitimate third-party certification to show that they are doing what they claim to be doing. However, not all third-party certifications are created equal.

To begin with, a legitimate third-party certification is not awarded through a for-profit company or obtained on the internet for a ‘small fee’. A legitimate third-party certification requires the company to provide data to prove its claims, and requires transparency and even on-site verification. The standards that the certification is based on should be publicly available and replicable, so that others can also obtain the certification.

While there is no government entity that regulates this at the present time, there are certain certifications that are commonly accepted as legitimate in the United States and have withstood scrutiny. Some examples of these include, of course, the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership inEnergy and Environmental Design) green building standard, Energy Star certification for buildings and electronics, and Green Seal for green custodial/cleaning services. Other certifications to be aware of include: Forest Stewardship Council for paper and wood products, Green Label for carpets and rugs, Green Guard for chemicals in products that affect indoor air quality, Green-e for renewable energy, and Cradle to Cradle for product lifecycle.

There are other US-based certifications that are not listed here and that are also legitimate, such as the USDA Organic, but we wanted to keep the focus of the discussion on building and operations and to highlight the most commonly recognized ones in that area. Further, there are competing certifications in some of these industries, such as Green Globes for buildings, and SFI for paper/wood products, which may also be considered though they are not the leading certification presently.

In general, if a company is making a green certification claim about its product or service, be sure to check the claim and the certification before purchasing.


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