Tag Archives: LEED

Sustainable cleaning to improve indoor health

Sustainable cleaning –  sometimes referred to as “green cleaning” – reduces the exposure to potentially hazardous products, equipment, or processes that can adversely affect our health within the indoor work environment.

Three (3) key areas to pay attention to inside your facility to help achieve a healthier indoor environment include: chemicals, materials and equipment, and sustainable procedures.


Ironically, the same chemicals we’ve spent so much time reducing our exposure to outdoors has now made its way into our work environment – where we spend the majority of our time. Many cleaning products release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), which is a major component in the formation of smog.

There are many traditional household cleaners that contain an unnecessary amount of VOC’s that are toxic, such as Clorox, Pine sol, and Lysol. Repeated exposure to harsh chemicals with a high level of VOC’s over a long period of time can lead to major health issues. In some cases, people can also be bothered by low levels of exposure.

It is imperative that you limit the use of harsh cleaners, solvent based cleaners or cleaners that emit a strong fragrance. Instead, choose low-emitting products that are third-party certified and labeled by a reputable organization, such as Green Seal. Also, be wary of manufacturer claims of “no VOC”, “natural” or “alternative.” Read the labels and keep a look-out for the following clues:


Materials & Equipment

The right powered cleaning equipment can help reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous particulate contaminants that affect air quality and our indoor health.

For instance, using a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter ensures that dust and dirt won’t get blown back out in the exhaust. Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter also effectively helps get rid of other toxins, like brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.

Using the right cleaning materials can also help ensure the indoor environments we work in is as healthy as can be. Microfiber mops and microfiber cleaning cloths, for instance, capture more dust and debris than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions.

The USGBC lists credit requirements of proper cleaning equipment to be used inside LEED certified facilities. The following page provides a snippet of their requirements, which should be followed in all facilities to improve our indoor health.

materials and equipment

Sustainable Procedures

In conjunction with ensuring proper cleaning chemicals and equipment are being used, the right sustainable procedures need to be followed.

Green Seal, a non-profit environmental development certification organization provides sustainable cleaning standards and criteria to protect human health and the environment. Their GS-42 for commercial and industrial cleaning services provides a standard of not only tools and products to be used for cleaning, but also procedures for how cleaning is to be done. To become GS-42 certified, cleaning companies must be following these requirements at a minimum:

  • Proper storing and use of chemicals
  • Cleaning procedures to reduce solid waste (e.g. reusable cleaning cloths or microfibers to be used in lieu of paper products, and making sure these microfibers are laundered prior to reuse)
  • Proper use of vacuums and maintenance
  • Proper floor care (hard surface floors and carpets) and entryway cleaning
  • Disinfection procedures
  • Restroom care
  • Trash collecting and recycling
  • Cleaning of dining areas and break rooms

Our indoor work environment needs to be as healthy as can be. Reducing the amount of harmful pollutants to improve overall indoor air quality is an ongoing challenge for facilities and maintenance teams.

Using the right cleaning chemicals, equipment, materials and procedures that are environmentally safe and green certified help facilities provide a healthier working environment. Healthier employees are far more focused and productive to achieve mission critical objectives, not to mention a big savings on your bottom line.

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If you have questions regarding the cleanliness of your facility and the impact this is having on workplace performance, then we encourage you to reach out to us below. We’d be more than happy to provide you a free no-hassle assessment, which takes a look at:

  • Chemicals, equipment and materials being used inside your facility
  • Sustainable cleaning procedures
  • Overall cleanliness of your facility to ensure harmful pollutants are not impacting workplace performance

Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services.

Indoor Air Pollution – How Chemicals and Cleaning Processes are Destroying your Health

According to the EPA, “the average American spends approximately 90% of their time indoors.”

Unfortunately, much of the air we breathe indoors is toxic as pollutant levels “may be 2-5 times – and occasionally more than 100 times – higher than outdoor pollutant levels.”

A higher level of indoor air pollution, according to the American Lung Association, “contributes to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea, and fatigue.”

One of the main contributors to a rise in indoor air pollution can come from the chemicals being used inside your facility and/or home. This is especially true with cleaning products as many people are exposed to harsh and toxic chemicals that, overtime, can lead to illness or death.

Of course, there are several initiatives and valuable resources that can assist us in making great strides to improve the environment in which we spend the vast majority of our time in. One such initiative is a push for facilities to pursue greener procedures and processes by obtaining reputable third-party certifications, such as the prestigious U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program.

While cleaning represents a small portion of LEED, facilities can satisfy their pre-requisite points with a Green Cleaning Policy, and accumulate additional credits with the use of Green Cleaning Products, Materials and Equipment under the new LEED v4.

If you have a Green Seal (GS-42) certified contract cleaning company cleaning your facility you will not only satisfy the LEED pre-requisites and additional credits for cleaning, you can also reassure your occupants that they can breathe and work in a healthier environment.

Other valuable tips to help protect your indoor health as discussed in a recent BSCAI Services Magazine article include:

  • Examining your cleaning products with their emissions and odors being released.
  • Evaluating your cleaning processes and ways in which they can be modified to eliminate hazards.
  • Performing a chemical screening and using resources and toolkits to improve the health of your facility. One toolkit highlighted in the article includes the U.S. Department of Labor OSHA Safer Chemicals Toolkit.

Click here to further read BSCAI’s excellent article entitled Protecting the Indoor Environment as written by Roger McFadden, vice president and senior scientist for Staples, Inc.

A healthier indoor environment leads to a healthier you resulting in a productivity booster in your facility!


Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services.


Employee Wellness Programs—Do You Have a Healthy Office?

How do you promote health and wellness in your company?

Today, many companies are incorporating more incentives such as weight loss programs, physicals, or even desk treadmills in hopes to improve overall health and lower healthcare premiums.

While there is much debate in terms of whether these incentives work or not, there isn’t a lot of discussion on how companies can improve their overall well-being with a cleaner facility. There is a disconnect somewhere along the lines in which many facility managers fail to see how a clean facility can tie into an employee wellness program for improved health and lower costs.


Where is the disconnect?

Many facilities are tasked with a daunting assignment – budgets!  Companies must make choices on wants vs. needs.  In many cases this means a removal of services, a cut-back on scope of work, or a switch to another provider for a lower cost.

Unfortunately services like contract cleaning often fall under this cost conscious umbrella, and may be viewed as a commodity.   When this happens the quality of cleaning can depreciate, which can lead to many health concerns including the spread of germs and bacteria, and lower indoor air quality.


Tactics Many Facilities Use for a Cleaner Environment

There are several facilities that are leading the pack with a cleaner environment. With a push for greener procedures and processes these facilities continue to raise the industry bar by obtaining reputable third-party certifications, such as the prestigious U.S. Green Building’s Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program.

While cleaning represents a small portion of LEED, facilities that obtain the certification are able to reassure their occupants of a healthier environment to work, which can serve as a big morale and productivity booster.


Are there Areas for Improvement?

While many facilities are progressive in providing a healthier facility for the environment and its occupants, there is still a lot of room to grow.

A recent article on a popular media personality publication provides an excellent argument to further expand this point. The author, Jason E. Lee, Director of Sustainability & Process Optimization for Harvard Maintenance (LEED AP O+M), provides insight as to why a clean facility needs to be incorporated as part of an employee wellness program.

Below is an excerpt on what Lee states:

“Although cleaning for appearance will continue to act as a benchmark to rate the perception of cleanliness, with doing so, the anticipated benefits of employee wellness programs will always be limited if the cleanliness of their facilities are not made a priority in an overall employees wellness program.  It is the responsibility of corporations to become the advocates for the numerous benefits of cleaning for wellness and to communicate the role of the service provider as a vested partner in assisting to promote.”

In today’s era of providing healthier work environments facilities are encouraged to continue their forward-thinking tactics. Contract cleaning should not be viewed as a commodity. Instead contract cleaning should be viewed as the key to a healthier and more productive work environment, and should play a part with an employee wellness program.

Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services.


10 Earth Day Tips to Practice Each Day

Earth Day is a special day as millions of people celebrate and promote sustainable best practices for a healthier planet.

Each year Mister Kleen participates in Earth Day events. At these events we’re able to educate occupants inside commercial and high security facilities of our sustainable cleaning practices and the impact on their overall health and well-being.


Though Earth Day only takes place once per year it can serve as a starting point for many people to make better choices in protecting our planet. After all, it’s the simple everyday changes that can result in healthier habits.

Below are ten tips you can incorporate each day to promote a healthier planet earth:

1) Take reusable bags to the grocery store or mall. If you happen to live near a Wegmans then stop by one of their locations on Saturday, April 26th from 11 am to 3 pm to exchange your plastic bag(s) for a free reusable bag they are giving away (first 300 customers).


2) Use a coffee mug instead of disposable cups. Places like Starbucks offer discounts when you bring in your own reusable mug.


3) Green your workout by going for a run, walk or bike ride on local trails and paths versus indoor equipment that uses a ton of power. Check out www.traillink.com to find local trails.


4) Use refillable plastic or aluminum water bottles to reduce your cost and toxic contribution to the local landfill.


5) Place living plants throughout your home and office to enhance the indoor air quality. Many plants act as a natural air scrubber. In 24 hours some plants can remove up to 87% of toxic indoor air.


6) Use water efficiently. While the earth appears to have an abundance of water only one percent of that water is available for human consumption.

Don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full, run a full laundry cycle, purchase water efficient fixtures and products, and fix those leaks!


7) Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Use products that reduce the number of chemicals being used, find ways to reuse products before throwing them away, and whatever you do recycle products that are recyclable!


8) Compost food scraps and kitchen waste. These items will decompose and return to the soil naturally, and it will also save you money on fertilizers.


9) Don’t top off your gas tank when refueling during hot weather. Wait until the early morning or evening when the weather is cooler to avoid any fuel spills that evaporate and add to air pollution.


10) Use public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs. If you are able to work from home versus commuting to an office then by all means do so as this will help reduce your carbon footprint.


While there are many more tips to share, this can be a good start to begin practicing a more sustainable lifestyle in 2014.

Happy Earth Day!

Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services.