Removing dust, dirt, allergens, and infection-causing agents like viruses is a key component of a healthy indoor environment. Some commercial cleaning products pose environmental and health concerns (especially those that contain chemicals). Reducing human health and environmental risks associated with a commercial cleaning program is important for tenants and occupants, and can help meet sustainability initiatives and green building goals.
When creating a green commercial cleaning program, the first step should be to outline what “clean” means for your organization. What special cleaning requirements does your facility have, what surfaces need to be cleaned and how frequently, and what do you need the cleaning products to do? This can help narrow your green cleaning product search. To reduce waste and costs, look for opportunities to replace several cleaning products with one.
Take time to research trends. Even if you have a green cleaning program, there may be new green cleaning products available that weren’t considered when the program was established. Consider new options like:
- Bio-Based Cleaning Products. Derived from renewable plant products, these cleaning solutions aren’t new … but new technology has helped with cost and performance. Not all bio-based commercial cleaning products are green cleaning products, so check for Green Seal, UL/Environment, or DfE1 certification on the label. Research indicates that some bio-based cleaning products work well in buildings where occupants have compromised immune systems (chemically sensitive, multiple allergies, etc.).
- Electrolyzed Water. An electrolyzed water system uses tap water, salt, and electricity to ionize salt water onsite at a facility. The result: a non-toxic, bleach-like disinfectant (hypochlorous acid) that’s also safe enough to drink, and a grease-cutting cleaner (sodium hydroxide). Between one and 15 seconds after application, the disinfectant can eliminate most common bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores. At 50 parts per million, it’s 80% more powerful than chlorine bleach at 200 parts per million, according to Food Quality & Safety magazine. The cleaner can be used on carpets, upholstery, floors, walls, glass, ceilings, furniture, etc. MIT’s Endicott House is successfully (and cost-effectively) using electrolyzed water as its only cleaning and sanitizing product.
Attention is also being paid to cleaning products being used on the exterior of commercial facilities. As part of its Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can fine building owners for not keeping the environment safe from toxic cleaning chemicals. If a building owner hires a pressure-washing company that uses dangerous chemicals or contaminates the storm drain system, he or she could incur fines of up to $50,000 per day.
Have you implemented a green cleaning program? Does it include one of these green cleaning trends?