Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

LEED: Elevating role of cleaning industry

September 19, 2010

Many people do not understand what LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is or what its implications are for the cleaning industry.

LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB), the second rating system launched by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), along with LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC), will have a significant impact on not only the building and construction industries, but the JanSan industry as well.

Where is this LEEDing?
The USGBC was founded 10 years ago by three men — developer David A. Gottfried, corporate executive Richard Fedrizzi, and attorney Michael Italiano — who recognized a need to define what a green building is. To do this, they established a rating system that evolved into LEED/LEED-EB/LEED-NC.

What were the initial goals of LEED? The founders set out to do the following:

  • Help promote green and sustainable practices through building design and operation
  • Stimulate green competition
  • Raise consumer awareness of going green and its benefits

LEED-EB and Green Seal®
What is Green Seal® and what role does it play in LEED-EB?

Green Seal®, an independent nonprofit organization that helps identify and promote environmentally preferable products and services, is helping JanSan manufacturers develop green cleaning products by establishing clear, concise, and nationally recognized guidelines and parameters.

LEED-EB adopted the Green Seal® standard for cleaning products.

How you fit in
What does LEED certification mean to the cleaning industry?

Overall, certification honors and recognizes buildings’ owners, managers, and operators for their efforts in reducing the environmental impact of their facilities and for their attempts to run their operations using green and sustainable products and procedures.

An important component of LEED-EB involves cleaning.

As more facilities begin to adopt LEED-EB standards and certification, they will turn to facility service providers to integrate green cleaning and sustainable practices into their cleaning duties. This will include such things as using environmentally preferable cleaning products (e.g. chemicals, paper, equipment and other JanSan products); adopting recycling; integrating pest management and waste management programs; using water and energy more efficiently; and completely integrating their cleaning duties into the operation of the entire facility.

Additionally, one of the major side benefits of going green is that it is helping to elevate the role of the cleaning industry. Our job in protecting the health and wellbeing of the people and facilities we maintain has never been clearer or more important.

Getting certified
To start the process, it is encouraged that a team be constructed to manage the certification process, which means preparing documentation and calculations to fulfill the prerequisites and credit submittal requirements to become LEED certified. The team should identify under which rating system the building desires to be certified, and the desired level of certification, from the most basic level to the highest ratings — silver, gold, or platinum certification.

It is important to recognize that each rating system "values" cleaning differently. For example, LEED-NC offers only one point for entryway systems that the cleaning industry could possibly address, while LEED-EB offers as many as 13 points affected by the cleaning industry.

The team should go through the checklist provided by the USGBC to help develop their strategy: Which points would be easy or difficult to achieve; where they will need to collect data; whether or not they need a consultant with certification experience; budgets; and other potential issues they may need to consider prior to committing to the program.

Once the commitment is made, the building owner must register with the USGBC, which administers the various LEED programs. The USGBC uses the information owners supply on the registration form — which includes site plan, typical floor plans, typical building sections, elevation, and photos — for tracking the building project, answering credit interpretation requests, and preparing project case studies upon certification.

Owners must also pay a fee to become LEED registered and certified; charges vary based on the size of the facility and if they are members of USGBC.

Once the initial paperwork is submitted to the USGBC, a review process — to make sure the applicant has met all of the prerequisites for LEED certification — will decide if the applicant can begin the actual certification phase.

Become a points LEEDer
The certification process is actually based on a rating system. In LEED-EB, which most directly affects the cleaning industry, points are awarded to the facility or project based on the satisfactory level of such areas as:

  • Whole building cleaning and maintenance issues, including the selection and use of chemicals, equipment, and janitorial paper
  • Ongoing indoor air quality (IAQ)
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Recycling programs
  • Exterior maintenance programs
  • Integrated pest management programs
  • Training
  • System upgrades to meet green building energy, water, IAQ, and lighting performance standards
  • Innovations

As the facility is being evaluated, it is rated. If the building passes, the project or facility may be referred to as a LEED-certified building, and the USGBC presents the project team with an award letter, certificate, and LEED plaque, which indicates the certification achievement.

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a Bloomington, IN-based consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning process.