Feature Article - April 2012
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Maintenance & Operations

Don't Reinvent the Wheel
Follow LEED Practices to Green Your Cleaning

By Tammy York

Dusting, Vacuuming, and Deep Cleaning

Use a microfiber cloth to dust with as the fibers seemingly soak up the dust rather than disperse it into the air like a feather or cotton-rag duster does. "Use microfiber for everything including dusting, polishing, cleaning and mopping," Luna said. "Microfiber changed the cleaning industry and is key to effective indoor air quality because it acts as a vacuum cleaner for dust."

A high-grade bagged vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a must for indoor air quality. HEPA filters can remove the tiniest particles down to the submicron level. Vacuum cleaners must be certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute "Green Label" Testing Program and operate at a sound level of less than 70 decibels.

If the carpets need to be professionally steam-cleaned, get it done during off-peak times to allow plenty of time for any pollutants or chemicals to be filtered out of the air. Carpet extraction equipment used for restorative deep cleaning must be certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute's "Seal of Approval" Testing Program for deep-cleaning extractors.

Powered maintenance equipment including electric and battery powered for buffers and burnishers must be equipped with vacuums, guards and other devices for catching fine particulates and operate with a sound level of less than 70 decibels.

If you are seeking LEED-EB: O & M certification, you must keep a log of all powered cleaning equipment and document the date of purchase, repair, maintenance activities, and include vendor specification sheets.

Green Method Learning Curve

"Determine how recycling fits into cleaning. We found our quantity of recycling was much more than anticipated," Swofford said. "We produce twice as much recycling as trash. We initially didn't have enough recycling containers and didn't have the recycling removal service often enough. We had to reorganize how we were collecting recycling and increase the number of pickup days."

With the Scout Achievement Center being open to the public, it was important to educate the people using the building on green cleaning practices. "One of the issues we have is there's a lot of public usage of the building with people who aren't here on a regular basis. Initially we weren't prepared to educate them on the green cleaning practices," Swofford said. "Now, we actually provide people who use the conference room with information on how to clean it."

Another problem was public complaints about there not being enough recycling containers available. In actuality, there were plenty of containers, but the containers were color coded and not clearly identified for recyclables. Once the containers were clearly labeled complaints ceased.

"It's important to identify the cleaning products that are green products," Swofford said. "It was a challenge for us to find green products because they weren't as readily available as common traditional cleaners you can find on the shelves in any grocery store."

There are several reputable vendors that can supply high-grade Green Seal certified cleaning products and provide advice in how to clean, streamline cleaning, and manage inventory and equipment.

"Part of the LEED certification plan is to provide continuous training, but it wasn't until we were practicing it that we realized what it meant to provide continuous training on the cleaning policy," Swofford said. "Putting it into practice was harder. As you have staff turnover, you need to train the new people on the green cleaning practices."