As more and more new buildings applied for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification for new construction and renovation, the council became concerned that the standards to maintain the buildings needed definition. Why spend time, energy and money to construct or renovate a green building that would not be maintained with green standards? The result has been the council’s development of LEED for Existing Buildings or LEED-EB.
A well-designed healthy building does not need to be expensive to maintain. Green cleaning procedures may require a shift in attitude, but the benefits certainly outweigh the brief educational and re-training programs. Protecting the wonderful advances made by LEED certified building developers can have a profound impact on our environment and on the health of all persons who work in the building.
Responsible environmental stewardship requires a change of thinking. Here are some considerations:
- Health comes first. The cleaning program addresses health concerns first. Appearance is a secondary benefit of green cleaning practices.
- Human exposure to contaminants and cleaning products is to be reduced.
- Cleaning must be viewed as an environmental health benefit and responsibility.
- All cleaning products must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.
- The safety and well-being of the building workers and occupants cannot be compromised for appearance purposes.
- Building managers must convey the value of healthy cleaning practices to building tenants and occupants.
- Cleaning personnel and building staff must have green cleaning education and training.
- The cleaning manager must document all maintenance activity.
Converting to green cleaning practices will create a noticeable change. The conversion must be explained to tenants. Building managers are constantly surprised by the positive response to green cleaning techniques. After all, tenants want a healthy work environment. Tenants also want a productive place to work and green cleaning reduces sick days and increases productivity. Not to beat the point into the ground, but green buildings are happier buildings. Try it, and you will agree.