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Echoing the national trend toward all things green, more managers have started to transform housekeeping departments into more environmentally friendly operations. Over the last 18 months, several industry organizations have issued standards and other resources designed to make this transition as smooth and effective as possible.
In October 2006, Green Seal completed the first standard for services provided to clean buildings. Service providers now can receive certification under GS-42, Environmental Standard for Cleaning Services for reduced toxicity, waste, and exposure.
Under the standard, green cleaning encompasses all indoor activities typically required to clean commercial, public and industrial buildings. And because it defines an environmentally responsible cleaning service, organizations can use the standard as the basis for verification as well as certification.
In November 2007, Green Seal issued the first certifications under the standard, recognizing three cleaning services — in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington. The group also is reviewing and updating its standard, GS-37 Environmental Standard for General-Purpose, Bathroom, Glass, and Carpet Cleaners Used for Industrial and Institutional Purposes.
ISSA also moved further into green issues in October 2007, releasing its Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS). The standard sets up a management framework designed to assist building service contractors and in-house service providers in developing quality, customer-centered organizations.
Finally, ASTM International issued ASTM E1971-05, Standard Guide for Stewardship for the Cleaning of Commercial and Institutional Buildings. The standard assists owners and operators of commercial and institutional buildings in making cleaning and housekeeping operations greener. Its aim is to address appropriate cleaning activities and processes, promote environmental efficiency and sustainability, and avoid adverse impacts on occupants, cleaning personnel, the building itself, and the environment.
In November 2006, a new organization debuted at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild Conference. The Green Cleaning Network aims to stimulate information sharing among a spectrum, including schools and universities, healthcare facilities, government and commercial office buildings, hospitality and lodging facilities, as well as cleaning professionals, facility and property managers, policy makers, advocates, and third-party certifiers.
The founding members of the Green Cleaning Network include the Healthy Schools Campaign, Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, International Executive Housekeepers Association, Responsible Purchasing Network and the U.S. Green Building Council.
— Dan Hounsell, Editor