What is LEED and Why Should My Cleaning Company Learn More About It?

Steve Hanson

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Companies and businesses across the country are becoming more environmentally conscious and many are starting to adopt LEED standards and protocols. LEED stands for Leadership in Environmental Design. The US Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization, which is working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, launched the LEED rating system. The overall goal of the program is to make the places we live in and work at become healthier environments. There are two classifications for LEED; one for existing buildings - LEED-EB and one for new construction - LEED-NC.

As cleaning companies it's no longer enough to just supply good cleaning services to your customers. Cleaning companies need to be aware of this growing trend towards becoming LEED certified. One important aspect of becoming LEED certified is integrating green cleaning into a building's overall janitorial services and practices.

To achieve LEED recognition, a building needs to have a thorough evaluation, rating and certification program. The process uses a checklist which evaluates many items including: the building's power use, its waste management program, the products used to clean the building, and even the storage of those cleaning products.

One portion of the LEED criteria looks at the steps a building takes to lessen the cleaning's impact on the environment. This is an important area as it is estimated that six billion pounds of commercial cleaning products are used throughout buildings in the United States each year. In addition, commercial buildings use over 4 million pounds of hand towels and toilet tissue and 30 million trash bags each year.

Some cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which contribute to indoor air pollution. Cleaning products can also leave residue that causes eye and skin irritation. This is irritating not only to janitorial workers, but also to the building's occupants. Using safer, less toxic cleaning products can lead to a healthier building and higher worker productivity.

A building owner who wants to become LEED certified will look closely at their janitorial services. Integrating green cleaning practices into your business also means looking for environmentally preferable cleaning products. Labels on cleaning products can be confusing. One way to make sure you are buying environmentally sound products is to buy products that are “Green Seal" certified. Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that promotes products and services that cause less pollution and waste, conserves resources and habitats, and reduces global warming.

Becoming LEED certified shows that building owners are committed to becoming an environmental leader. In addition, some government agencies are providing financial incentives to buildings who take on this leadership role. Learning about LEED and its requirements will give your company an edge up on the competition. Put yourself in the driver's seat by understanding your company's role in maintaining healthy and environmentally sound buildings.

For more information on LEED go to: http://www.usgbc.org. To learn more about Green Seal go to: http://www.greenseal.org/index.html.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at http://www.TheJanitorialStore.com and receive a Free Gift!


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