Feature Article - April 2011
Find a printable version here

Maintenance Series: Eco-Friendly

Clean and Green
Eco-Friendlier Maintenance Practices

By Dawn Klingensmith

Follow the LEEDers

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council "have done a thorough job of creating standards and measures," Wasson said. "Even if you are not going to submit for an Energy Star rating or attempt LEED certification, use those tools as metrics and objectives for your buildings."

The "LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Registered Project Checklist," for example, addresses water and energy efficiency, as well as building exterior, hardscape and landscape management; erosion control; stormwater management, heat island effect; light pollution; sustainable purchasing and solid waste management policies; indoor environmental quality; and cleaning products and practices.

Certified green cleaning products bear the Green Seal or EcoLogo. GreenGuard and the Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment (DfE) partnership program are also credible endorsements. Look for vacuum cleaners and carpet extraction equipment that is certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label and Seal of Approval programs.

Green cleaning products have come a long way, Wasson said, so don't assume their use will require more elbow grease and therefore add to your labor costs.

Intermediate steps toward greenness include devising an action plan to reduce potable water consumption in restrooms and by using irrigation systems. Install retrofit low-flow faucets and flush valves. In a typical 100,000-square-foot building, automatic sensors and low-flow fixtures will save about 1 million gallons of water annually, Wasson said.

Also, in the intermediate phase, "Complete the Energy Star audit to get your building's rating," Wasson advised. "You can't know where you want to go until you know where you are."

Plus, a complete energy audit will let you know which sorts of "big-ticket investments" will offer the biggest ROI when you're ready to advance to the highest level of greenness, she added.

"Depending on your building's design, type and use you may get the most energy savings, and subsequent dollar savings, by re-lamping and installing LED wherever possible."