LEED v4 and Clarifying the Green in Matting
When the US Green Building Council released the latest version of LEED certification, it made it clear that installing at least 10 feet – preferably 15 feet or more – of entry matting was now a requirement in order for a facility to be LEED certified. However, for some building owners and managers either seeking LEED certification or using the LEED standards as a green building’s operation guideline, the criteria as it applies to mats may not be as clear as it should be.
In fact many issues regarding mats and how they promote or do not promote a clean, healthy and green environment are a bit fuzzy. Hopefully we can clarify some of these issues here.
For instance, is any mat or combination of mats that are 10-feet long or longer fit the bill? The answer is no.
An effective entry matting system includes three types of mats: a scraper mat outside, a wiper/scraper mat directly inside the facility, and a wiper mat usually found in the lobby of the building. The three work together as a system. They should be connected directly to each other – not one a few inches or a few feet from the other. While it is almost impossible for mats to keep all soils and moisture outside a building, these three types can stop as much as 70 percent, if not more, according to some studies.
So how is this tied to green cleaning?
Entry mats fall into a category in the professional cleaning industry we call “source control” or “soil source control” systems. They stop soil at the source – outside – and help prevent it from being walked in. Because so many of the soils in a facility originate from outside, keeping them from being walked into a facility reduces the amount of cleaning solutions needed to maintain the location. Whenever fewer chemicals are needed in cleaning, it reduces cleaning’s impact on the environment, the goal of green cleaning.
We should also clarify that a “green mat” is not required to meet the LEED standards. In fact, it may actually defeat the goal of effective entry matting. Some manufacturers have introduced matting systems made of recycled plastics, for instance. While these mats do help reduce waste and promote sustainability, our goal is to keep soils outside. While some of these green mats have proven their effectiveness, many others have not. It is important that we stay focused on our goal, and that is keeping soil and moisture outside of facilities. We want to select matting systems that can do just that.
We now know the following:
- There are three types of entry mats needed for effective source control.
- Entry mats are part of a green cleaning strategy.
- While worthy, a “green mat” made from recycled products may not necessarily contribute to our goal of keeping a facility green and healthy.
Another issue to clarify refers to high-performance mats. The most effective matting system made by manufacturers is typically referred to as high-performance. As the name implies, they have proven to be very effective – high performing – and they typically last longer than non-high-performance mats. These mats are also purchased. This is important to understand. While rental mats have a role to play, their role in soil source control is often limited. Rental mats also tend to last only a few months, another indication of their limitations.
Finally, we have one more thing to cover to ensure a matting system is keeping a facility green and healthy, and that involves its cleaning. The new LEED guidelines require that mats be cleaned (vacuumed) once per week. We suggest far more vacuuming frequency. In a larger office building, for instance, mats may need to be cleaned hourly. The cleaner the mat is, the better it can perform.
In addition to vacuuming, mats should be cleaned using a carpet extractor once they become excessively soiled. Extraction helps remove deeply embedded soils and moisture. This protects the mat, improves its performance, and enhances its lifespan.
Hopefully, this information has clarified some of the green issues related to LEED matting requirements. Building owners and managers following a green cleaning strategy should view mats as their first line of defense against dirt and moisture. Using the correct mats, properly installed, helps promote a clean, green environment in any facility.
Adam Strizzi is marketing manager for Crown Matting Technologies, one of the oldest and largest matting companies in the United States. He can be reached via his company website.
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