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Green Seal answers GS-42 questions

September 19, 2010
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Green Seal® is pleased to release information in response to inquiries regarding GS-42, the environmental leadership standard for certification of green cleaning services.

According to Green Seal’s Vice President of Marketing and Outreach, Linda Chipperfield, “More than one hundred facility service providers (FSPs) have expressed interest in the program, including many who attended sessions conducted by Green Seal’s President and CEO, Arthur Weissman, at the recent BSCAI Convention in Chicago, and a number of applications for certification are now being processed.”

Based on FSPs’ input, Green Seal addresses the following questions regarding GS-42 certification:

Q: How much will it cost our company or operation to become certified?
A: Costs are determined based on the annual sales revenue of the cleaning operation and the number of accounts cleaned using green methods, with projected fees starting at about $7,000.

Q: How much will it cost to maintain our certification?
A: An annual maintenance fee — also starting at about $7,000 — applies for auditing and monitoring services performed by Green Seal on behalf of the cleaning organization. The process of monitoring the records, procedures and facilities is nearly identical to the application process.

Q: Isn’t this expensive for small FSPs?
A: The application and monitoring fees are less than what many small businesses spend on advertising or office expenses each year. Being certified as a green cleaning service and promoted by Green Seal will give FSPs a market advantage as more properties incorporate green products and services into their purchasing requirements.

As a matter of policy, Green Seal will periodically review the GS-42 fee structure to ensure it provides the widest range of FSPs access to certification, while also ensuring Green Seal adequate resources to maintain an appropriate standard of quality. Green Seal is considering offering discounts on certification to members of industry trade associations, as it does for certified-product manufacturers.

Q: How much money does Green Seal make from certification fees?
A: As a non-profit organization, Green Seal’s fees are designed to merely cover its basic operating costs. Green Seal operates its headquarters and employs a full-time staff in Washington, D.C., invests in ongoing research and development and contracts with outside resources necessary to accomplish its mission. These expenses consume the fees supplied to Green Seal by manufacturers applying for or maintaining GS certification of their products and FSPs who apply for or will be applying for or maintaining GS-42 certification of their services.

Q: Why is Green Seal certifying cleaning services?
A: Green Seal is committed to promoting sustainability and environmental excellence. As an experienced and knowledgeable independent green certification organization, Green Seal feels an ethical obligation to address the services side of green cleaning, just as it has the products side.

Moreover, it understands that green products are only part of the answer to sound environmental operations policies and that addressing overall processes and procedures making up an environmental management system is the key to creating a healthier indoor environment.

Q: Once our service is certified, how does the monitoring that Green Seal performs help our business?
A: The feedback provided via the monitoring process will help cleaning operations stay “on track,” while giving service providers input and assurance that their green cleaning procedures are being periodically “sampled,” evaluated and, as merited, certified by Green Seal. Monitoring is necessary to maintain certification.

Q: How does GS-42 certification benefit us from a marketing perspective?
A: Since GS-42 is a third-party, science-based, environmental leadership standard, being GS-42 certified sets a cleaning operation apart from others. Not every cleaning service will qualify, and this makes GS-42 certification special and ultimately valuable as a differentiator and marketing tool.

Q: How may we use the Green Seal certification logo?
A: While all uses of the logo must be approved by Green Seal, the GS logo may be applied to various company advertising, identity or branding materials. Examples are shown in featured photos.

Q: How will GS-42 affect our company’s ability to secure contracts from facilities that are LEED-compliant?
A: Successful GS-42 certification and ongoing maintenance to ensure compliance will enable better servicing the needs of LEED-certified facilities.

Q: Why should we apply for certification now rather than later?
A: Certified operations will have first-to-market advantage and the enhanced ability to secure clients looking for verified green cleaning services. Prospects include:
  • Facilities managers with greenpurchasing guidelines
  • Managers of LEED-certified buildings
  • Government and university directorswith green mandates
  • School purchasers needing to protectthe health of students and maintainstudent attendance.
For more information on this subject and to download the GS-42 Standard, visit

Cheryl Baldwin is director of standards at Green Seal.

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