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Sustainability / Management And Training
April 2014 Raising Standards

Streamlining LEED-EBOM Certification

CIMS-GB simplifies the process as a direct compliance option for green cleaning requirements.

April 01, 2014
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Cleaning organizations play a critical role in helping facilities operate more sustainably.

Many organizations implement and follow green cleaning programs to ensure a cleaner, healthier indoor environment for building occupants and visitors.

Moreover, green cleaning minimizes the impact cleaning can have on the natural environment and on an organization’s bottom line.

For these reasons, building owners and managers are increasingly recognizing the value of green cleaning, especially those who strive to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) rating system.

Green cleaning programs (including integrated pest management) account for up to five points toward LEED-EBOM certification.

One of the most fool-proof ways to earn these five points is to have an in-house staff or a building service contractor (BSC) that is certified under ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard for Green Buildings (CIMS-GB).

The History Of CIMS-GB

ISSA launched CIMS-GB in 2010 to help meet the growing demand from building owners and managers looking for help in achieving LEED certification.

CIMS-GB criteria are closely tailored to provide building owners and managers with what they need to secure points under the LEED-EBOM, and because of that, the USGBC now includes CIMS-GB as one of the direct options for meeting the green cleaning policy prerequisite in its most recent version, which was released in November 2013.

CIMS-GB-certified organizations go through a rigorous third-party assessment to ensure they meet not only specific sustainability criteria, but also quality management and customer-focused principles.

This provides building owners and managers with the assurance that a cleaning organization is a high performance, well-managed organization focused on customer satisfaction that will be a strategic partner in the LEED-certification process.

As of November 2013, there were more than 150 CIMS-GB-certified organizations.

What CIMS-GB Covers

The LEED-EBOM version 4 rating system includes the following requirements and possible points regarding green cleaning — all of which can be achieved with a CIMS-GB-certified cleaning organization.

  • Green cleaning – policy (required) Organizations must have a green cleaning policy for the building and site addressing the green cleaning credits, goals and strategies and personnel. At a minimum, the policy must cover green cleaning procedures, materials and services that are within the building and site management’s control.
  • Green cleaning – custodial effectiveness assessment (one point) Organizations must implement the strategies set forth in the facility’s green cleaning policy and perform routine inspections and monitoring. Inspections must verify that the specified strategies have been implemented and must identify areas in need of improvement. Additionally, organizations must conduct an annual audit to determine the appearance level of the facility. The facility must score 2.5 or better (according to APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities’ Custodial Staffing Guidelines).
  • Green cleaning – products and materials (one point) Organizations must purchase green cleaning materials and products such as floor finishes and strippers, disposable janitorial paper products and trash bags. At least 75 percent of those products (by cost) of the total annual product purchases must meet at least one or more from a list of standards.
  • Green cleaning – equipment (one point) Organizations must create an inventory of existing interior and exterior equipment, including what is brought on-site by vendors. At least 40 percent of all powered janitorial equipment (purchased, leased or used by contractors) must meet the standard’s list of criteria. For existing equipment that does not meet the criteria, organizations must develop a phase-out plan and replacement with environmentally preferable products at the end of its useful life.
  • Integrated pest management (possible two points) Organizations must have in place an integrated pest management (IPM) plan for the building and grounds within the project boundary. The IPM plan must include seven elements. Organizations must implement the strategies set forth in the IPM plan and evaluate the plan annually.

Changing The Way The World Views Cleaning

To take advantage of the CIMS-GB option, a building will have to be cleaned by a certified organization and audited by an approved assessor within the past 12 months.

Having the opportunity to simply use a CIMS-GB-certified provider simplifies the LEED-EBOM compliance process, taking the guesswork out of meeting the green cleaning requirements.

When it comes to achieving sustainability and/or green building goals, CIMS-GB certified organizations have a significant seat at the table.

Certified cleaning organizations demonstrate the value of cleaning and how it is an integral part of a building’s — and an organization’s — success.

Programs like CIMS-GB are helping to change the way the world views cleaning, focusing on cleaning as an investment in human health, the environment and an improved bottom line.


Dan Wagner is ISSA's director of Facility Service Programs. In his role, Wagner is primarily responsible for managing the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) and CIMS-Green Building program as well as working with the end user community to "change the way the world views cleaning."

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