Green Cleaning

Understanding USGBC LEED Program

Today, when people talk about a “green building”, they are generally referring to a building that has already achieved certification or is going through certification for the USGBC LEED Program. While there are a variety of programs currently available through the USGBC, the most popular is the “Existing Building” or EB Program.

The program offers points in 7 categories that a building can accrue to reach certification. Each category will have prerequisites that must be achieved for any points to be accrued and then credits that can be earned. The categories are:

  • Sustainable Sites: addresses environmental concerns related to building landscape, hardscape, and exterior building management practices.
  • Water Efficiency: addresses environmental concerns related to building water usage and disposal.
  • Materials & Resources: addresses the environmental concerns related to materials selection, sustainable purchasing, waste reduction, and waste disposal.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: addresses environmental concerns related to indoor air quality; occupants health, safety, and comfort; air change effectiveness; energy consumption; and air containment management.
  • Innovation in operations: the purpose of this category is to recognize that improvements are occurring rapidly that affect building performance and the environment. Buildings with innovative or exemplary features are recognized here.
  • Regional Priority: these credits allow for important regional issues to be addressed. In essence, additional credits are earned for specific issues being addressed.

There are 110 possible credits that can be achieved by any facility. The point's breakdown is as follows:

  • 100 base points
  • 6 Innovation points
  • 4 Regional Priority point

The Certification levels that can be achieved by acquiring points are as follows:

  • Certified = 40 to 49 points
  • Silver = 50 to 59 points
  • Gold = 60 to 79 points
  • Platinum = 80 points and above

Where We Can Help

It would seem that with 110 total credits possible, equipment and janitorial supplies could play a huge role in achieving them. However, this is not the case. In regards to cleaning equipment, there are only 2 points that can be earned - IEQ Credit 3.4 and IEQ Credit 3.5. Therefore, the credits that the average janitorial distribution can help with are as follows:

  • WE Prerequisite 1: installation of automatic faucets & flushers
  • MRI: sustainable purchasing program for items such as paper and ink cartridges
  • IEQ Prerequisite 3: construction of a Green cleaning policy
  • IEQ Credit 3.1: Implementation of a Green Cleaning program
  • IEQ Credit 3.2: conducting an audit using APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities “Custodial Staffing Guidelines”
  • IEQ Credit 3.3: sustainable purchasing of disposable products and cleaning products
  • IEQ Credit 3.4: environmentally friendly equipment purchasing and maintenance of equipment. Contrary to popular notions or manufacturers literature, you do not receive 1 point for every piece of equipment that meets the criteria in this standard, you receive 1 point for the entire program. Which must be comprised of at least 20% of the existing equipment meeting the criteria for this standard and implementing a program where all new equipment will meet the criteria for this credit. Furthermore, equipment maintenance and repairs must be documented to achieve this credit.
  • IEQ Credit 3.5: use of sweepers for maintaining walkways Summarize each credit and how the Jan-San distributor can assist.

It is important for you to educate yourself on the USGBC LEED program so that you can communicate knowledgably with customers and end-users. There is rampant misunderstanding of this program in the cleaning industry resulting in a lot of misinformation. As always, a thorough knowledge of what green cleaning is, how it is achieved, and how a customer can benefit from it will always put you in position to make a difference for your customer, the occupants of the facility you consult with, and the environment.

Green Seal & Leed Abel Stock Product List (PDF)