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.