The world is a dangerous enough place without having to worry about getting sick all the time at work. While toxic chemicals will kill germs, they also do a number on your health as well. That’s why green cleaning is so important, and why becoming Green Seal certified is the highest standard in cleaning.
We’ve been in the cleaning industry for a long time, so we’re intimately familiar with the common misconceptions around it. The pay is low; there isn’t any training; anyone can come into work, and they’ll be handed a mop and a bucket and told to go clean the fifth floor.
The truth is that those days are over. Thanks to organizations like the Building Wellness Institute and Green Seal, the culture of the industry is shifting further and further from those misconceptions. Here’s how the shift is happening – and why it’s so important that it does.
The Beginning of the Story
Several decades ago, Arthur Weismann, the president and CEO of Green Seal, came together with other experts in the cleaning industry. They’d recognized that there were no nonprofit environmental certification programs in the U.S. – and they decided to change that. In 1989, Green Seal was born.
Today, Green Seal has grown to symbolize environmental leadership and represent proven-green products and services. And the Building Wellness Institute is the only accredited training program in the country that’s acknowledged by the Green Seal organization. They have provided training for Green Seal-42 certification over the past nine years for industrial cleaning companies, schools, and hospitals.
Where We Are Today
Green Seal has 33 issued standards for green cleaning that cover 400 product and service categories. The Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services certification, or GS-42, establishes environmental requirements for cleaning service providers of commercial, public, and institutional buildings, including in-house and external cleaning services, to create a green cleaning program that protects human health and the environment.
The Building Wellness Institute has partnered with Green Seal so that both firms can help companies become more sustainable.
The Building Wellness Certification Training program was established in 2005 to provide building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house facility/environmental services staff the training they need to meet the requirements of the GS-42 certification program and the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS). That’s important as the cleaning industry continues to shift.
Why the Green Seal Matters
Cleaning personnel and building service contractors that are GS-42 certified provide building owners and property managers the ability to differentiate their facilities with the Green Seal logo and help them achieve points toward LEED certification.
It’s about more than pretty badges, though. Proper cleaning contributes to good air quality in an indoor environment. When the Building Wellness Institute was started, they were looking at it from the health of the indoor environment. A large percentage of what goes onto surfaces and what goes into the air indoors comes from cleaning products – so it’s vitally important that those cleaning products aren’t harmful to people.
How the GS-42 Certification Process Works
Cleaning employees just need to show up to get a bucket and mop, right? Not anymore.
One of the requirements for the certification is that all employees who clean must take 24 hours of classes and testing yearly. This includes learning about OSHA standards and green cleaning. New hires must take a 12-hour course before the end of their first year of employment.
You have to have an established criterion for the products you purchase and use – chemicals, soaps, paper towels, toilet paper, equipment such as vacuum cleaners, etc. You also have to have a communication program, meaning you have to establish a way to communicate with the building occupants and the community because you can’t have a good, clean, healthy building if everyone doesn’t participate.
And communication is a big part of it. You have to submit all types of documentation, such as your training, chemical tracking, the maintenance on your machines, and a lot more to basically show you’re doing what you say you’re doing.
The one thing the Building Wellness Institute stresses to clients about the training and certification within the industry is that they can’t go out and buy some green products, put them on their shelves and call it a day. That’s the smallest part of it.
What the Green Seal Standard Means
The standard takes a systems approach with cleaning. Guidance is provided for tools and products used for cleaning (what is used for cleaning) and includes staff training and planning (how cleaning is done).
The standard also includes emphasis on environmental improvements that reduce toxicity, waste, and exposure to both building occupants and custodial staff. The standard can serve as a tool to help companies begin to take action to improve their cleaning service and is available for Green Seal certification.
The Wilburn Company Knows the Value of Green Cleaning
At the Wilburn Company, we know that green cleaning in Maryland isn’t just about the environment. The focus isn’t only on being safe for Earth, although that’s important – it’s also on being safe for people, families, pets, and pretty much any living thing.
Green cleaning is about cleaning for health as well as sustainability with nature and people. From the manufacturer to the user, green cleaning means safe cleaning – and today’s green cleaning products, processes, and culture reflect that.
Our company utilizes the newer GS-42 equipment technology and green products. These enhance our front-end services, while at the same time protecting health at our sites with little-to-no impact on the environment.
If you have any questions, or would like to know more about how our green cleaning policies can help your business, contact us today.