As more and more facilities transfer from conventional to green cleaning, property owners and facility managers typically turn to their contract cleaning service for help. After all, the cleaning contractor’s staff members are the people most familiar with the cleaning procedures and products being used in a facility every day.
But how can building owners and managers be sure that their cleaning contractor is truly familiar with all aspects of green cleaning? When selecting a new cleaning contractor, how can they make sure the contractor is indeed green and not just using green as a marketing opportunity? And Green or not, how can you ensure that a contractor puts healthy, hygienic cleaning first in order to protect the health of building occupants?
We now know that green cleaning means much more than just using certified, environmentally preferable cleaning chemicals. Whether evaluating their current cleaning contractor or selecting a new one, building owners and managers should investigate three key areas to assess the contractor’s understanding of green cleaning. These areas are cleaning products (specifically chemicals), procedures, and equipment.
One of the first things property owners and facility managers should ask of a current or prospective cleaning contractor is to provide a list of all cleaning chemicals and related products used in the facility. Luckily, determining whether chemicals are truly green is now a very simple process. Authentic green products are certified by a certification organization such as Green Seal®, UL Environment (formerly known as EcoLogo), or some other respected and reputable certification body.
Cleaning contractors should also be using such green products as HEPA, high-filtration vacuum cleaners; products which often use less chemical and water than conventional options, such as spray-and-vac systems or microfiber cleaning cloths and mop heads; and automatic chemical measuring and dilution systems, which limit human exposure to cleaning chemicals and reduce waste.
Of course, while green alternatives are now available for almost all conventional cleaning chemicals, there are situations in which using a non-green product may still be necessary. An example of this is the use of disinfectants in certain specific areas of a medical facility. At this time, disinfectants can be registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency, assuring their effectiveness, but they cannot be labeled green. This issue is most likely to come up specifically for the owners and managers of healthcare facilities or when public health issues, such as the flu epidemic of 2013, are a concern.