The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed a tool for use by the federal agency’s environmental, health and safety managers to estimate the benefits that could be accomplished by adopting green cleaning practices. The EPA intends to use this tool to evaluate the environmental attributes of janitorial contracts.
Green cleaning is the new approach to janitorial services. Green cleaning initiatives have been developed to improve housekeeper health, offer better environmental performance and replace traditional chemically intense cleaning products with green, sustainable products. Green cleaning does not mean sacrificing cleaning power, but it does mean improving cleaning practices.
Traditional chemical-based cleaning products cause severe repercussions. These effects can occur during the development, manufacture and transport of these products. Possible environmental consequences of traditional janitorial product use includes:
- Air pollution
- Bioaccumulation of toxic substances
- Endocrine disruption in wildlife
- Ozone depletion
- Water pollution
The use of green cleaning techniques and products can help to reduce these environmental hazards.
The green calculator requires the input of certain information about the building and cleaning practices:
- Estimate of square footage of carpeted area in building
- Estimate of hard floor area
- Types and annual usage of current cleaning products
- Policies regarding current product handling and mixing practices
- Proposed changes to cleaning practices
The calculator analyzes this data and provides summaries of
- How much total cleaning product consumption will decrease by adopting green cleaning practices
- How much hazardous materials consumption will decrease by adopting green cleaning practices
Green cleaning changes do not necessarily apply to all products. Some products and practices are linked, while others are relatively independent so a change might produce different results depending on the overall set of products and practices selected. Persons interested in finding more information about the EPA’s green cleaning calculator should visit the EPA web site or contact the agency.