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I had occasion today to encounter a question that was very simple yet profound. It was "What is the standard for Green Cleaning?" The EPA has recorded the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, but these are not universal. If you ask a person interested in the biosphere type of Green, the phrase "Sustainable" is the major issue, questioning whether will an item's use will be depleted or can it be sustained naturally. Sustainability is a big issue in a world of consumerism, but does not encompass the definition of Green for other areas of Green concern
Those interested in the oceans are concerned about "Marine Life" and how man has impacted the animal life in the oceans. It looks at the discharges poured into rivers, lakes, and the oceans asking if we are harming the animals that feed us. If mercury goes into the water, will it return to us in the tuna we eat at lunch? So, the pollution of the water is a part of the Green definition.
"Green House Gases" seem to preoccupy those concerned about the atmosphere. In an industrial world, the manufacture of the things we wish to market creates a lot of waste that we need to dump somewhere. The EPA has long fought the dumping of chemicals from manufacturing plants and the amount of pollutant coming out of the smoke stacks of our factories.
Those concerned with the preservation of nature argue that the Green movement stems from the preservation of the tree, forest, plains, and natural habitat from the forces of developers. From the energy side of Green, we are concerned about the "depletion" of our resources. So, you can quickly see that "Going Green" is not the same for any strategic side of the Green Movement.
"Green Clean" has its own connotation. The focus shifts from the larger biosphere of the world as a whole, it reduces the scope of its concern to the smaller biospheres of homes, schools, buildings, offices, and plants. There are two fundamental questions that define Green Clean"
Green as we define it is:
1- The immediate IMPACT of the products and practices used; and
2- The residual IMPACT of the products and practices used.
If we are causing harm at either of these two levels, whatever we are doing is not a Green practice. It is the broader concept of Green Practices that define those who work on and in our homes, school, offices, and public buildings that define our contribution or damage to the environment. People are impacted by the workers who are involved in the building, cleaning, and maintaining of our buildings. This has little to do with the outside world except that there are other issues out there as well. Inside a building are distinct issues of a smaller biosphere that can quickly turn into a sick building or create Building Related Illness (BRI). The spread of disease is a community issue that requires knowledgeable people to break the cycle of contagion. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) cannot be neglected because the floors are dull and require very caustic chemicals to strip and finish the floors. Every piece of furniture added, every chemical used, and every sick person adds to the well-being of the others in the recirculated air of that biosphere.
In fairness, Green Clean comes from a Green Program in the various facilities that we all frequent. To achieve a bona fide Green Program, there are three critical pieces. A Green Clean Program comes from three critical pieces:
1.Green Agenda: This means that the decision-makers are setting up rules, guidelines, and practices for the facility and its workers.
2.Green Products: The introduction of approved Green products and equipment to the workplace.
3.Green Practices: The workforce needs basic training and/or certification because these people cannot implement proper practices intuitively.
The Green Clean process is relatively new since we previously cleaned facilities for general cleanliness or need for sanitation. It is a process because it takes more than good intentions or substitution of better products. The Green Program is a full circle of leadership, equipment, and personnel to achieve a different outcome than typical janitorial and cleaning duties.
Michael Richmond, [Green Clean Institute]