What is Green Cleaning? (And Why It Matters To Your Building)

Posted by Ananth Rao on Nov 17, 2015 1:08:00 PM

What is green cleaning?


As a Property Manager or building owner, you’ve probably heard the words “Green Cleaning” a lot lately. Most commercial janitorial services companies claim to be cleaning “green.” Some say they use Green Seal certified chemicals, and that is why they are green. Other talk about using “green” paper products. Is green cleaning simply about using green chemicals and paper products, or is there more to it? Also, more importantly, why should you care about green cleaning at your building?


Why Should You Care About Green Cleaning?

Some Property Managers and Building Owners are skeptical of the whole “greenwashing” phenomenon, and rightfully so. There are many claims and counterclaims about what is considered green and how it benefits the environment. Ultimately, who cares as long as the building is clean, right?

Consider these statistics for a minute:


  • 6 billion pounds: The amount of cleaning chemicals used by the commercial cleaning industry each year.
  • 5 billion pounds: Consumption of paper products per year in commercial janitorial service operations
  • 90%: Estimated time that people spend indoors.
  • The EPA has concluded that indoor air is at least 2 to 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air.


Now think of what that means for your tenants and your building. Sick building syndrome is real. Empirical studies have proven that Green Cleaning is good for the environment, and your tenants, and the cleaning workers who clean your building. However, more importantly, it makes common business sense. 


The National Geographic HQ facility (a “green” facility) reported “increased the market value of this property by $4 for every $1 invested.” More tenants are demanding LEED certified spaces, and a well-executed, high-performance Green Cleaning program can help you maximize points towards LEED certification.


So, what is Green Cleaning?

Simply put, Green Cleaning is a process that focuses on the reduction of the impact of cleaning on the overall human health and the environment. The green cleaning process takes a 360-degree view of your building, its mission and the activities that take place within your building and customizes an environmentally preferable, building-specific cleaning program. 

A building-specific green cleaning program would incorporate several elements of the building's operations including:

  • Establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all cleaning tasks

  • Identifying specific needs of the building (including surface types) and individual tenant requirements (especially vulnerable population)

  • Providing comprehensive on-going training to cleaning workers

  • Implementing a robust communications plan

  • Ensuring purchasing of sustainable cleaning chemicals, paper products, and equipment.


Only replacing traditional cleaning products and equipment with environmentally preferable products does not, by itself, equal green cleaning. Cleaning operations are an integral sub-system of the overall sustainability efforts at a facility. A true green cleaning program requires coordinated interaction of people, processes, and products to ensure it meets facility’s overall sustainability objectives.


In short, Green Cleaning is more than just using green chemicals and paper products. A well implemented green cleaning program can result in better indoor air quality, healthier tenants and longer lasting building systems and finishes. If your building is LEED certified, or is in the process of LEED certification, Green Cleaning also helps with maximizing points toward your LEED project.


What Can You Do to Get Started?


  1. Learn the nut and bolts of Green Cleaning. Here are some resources to help you get started:



  1. Review the existing cleaning operations at your building to identify areas that need to change to “green” methods. Here’s a handy checklist to help you get started.


  1. Talk to your cleaning contractor about implementing a green program at your building. 


Ready to Go Green? Click here to download the Green Cleaning Grader.

Topics: Green Cleaning, GS-42, Green Seal, LEED

Free Download. Green Cleaning Grader.