By Marion Stecklow, Executive Director of the Building Wellness Institute
Much attention is focused on energy savings in buildings when attempting to achieve sustainability. That is a good thing!
LEED certification is certainly the most significant, motivating factor in creating and maintaining sustainable buildings. Although the ROI (Return on Investment) for building or renovating and maintaining a property to LEED standards is significant, the initial investment can be daunting. Nevertheless, the growing market demand and government regulations, coupled with significant energy costs savings, are inspiring building owners to obtain LEED certification for their properties, or at least follow the standards.
An often overlooked component of the LEED EBOM (Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance) is the section under EQ-Indoor Environmental Quality-Prerequisite 3 and Credits 3.1-3.9. This is unfortunate because the green cleaning portion of the standard can provide 6 or more points at little or no cost to the building owner.
More and more cleaning contractors and in-house facilities staff are achieving certification to Green Seal’s GS-42 (Environmental Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services), and many are aware of the LEED EBOM requirements for cleaning.
Those who have achieved GS-42 certification are ready and available to assist property managers with providing the documents and materials required for submission to the LEED AP. What a big help to the Property Manager! Also, high APPA audit scores and compliance with Custodial Effectiveness and High Performance Cleaning is easily available for LEED O&M credits when a GS-42 certified cleaning service is employed.
Beyond LEED, the business of cleaning is going through a huge metamorphosis. It is no longer considered enough to push a broom and “slop” a mop.
Through intensive training and achievement of GS-42 certification, cleaning companies and in-house services have elevated their staff to trained professionals who understand the importance of their occupation.
Green, healthy cleaning is a vital contribution to public health and the environment, considers the comfort and well-being of building occupants while maintaining the life span and appearance of surfaces in commercial and institutional buildings. So, let’s give more recognition and respect to cleaners, particularly those professionals who take pride in their work and are advancing the industry!
Marion Stecklow has more than twenty-five years of experience administering and managing occupational and environmental health programs. She is a Medical Technologist, ASCP by training and has received numerous additional certifications related to occupational health care and identification and remediation of environmental health and safety hazards. Recently, she co-authored a textbook entitled Occupational Health Services, A Practical Approach.
Currently, Marion is the Executive Director of the Building Wellness Institute. She has developed and teaches the nation’s first Green Seal accredited training program for cleaning service providers. Completion of the training program provides commercial and institutional cleaning services with the ability to achieve GS-42 certification.