To locate a green vacuum, the easiest method is to consult the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval program. Vacuums bearing the seal will have met strict guidelines for soil removal, dust containment and carpet fiber retention.

The Seal is further broken down into three ratings: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Vacuums earning the Bronze rating will capture between 40 and 49 percent of soil from the carpets and not release more than 100 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter of air (meaning that dust is contained within the unit). Silver-rated vacuums capture more soil (between 50 and 54 percent), but have the same dust containment criteria as Bronze vacuums. To meet the strictest standard, Gold, vacuums must capture at least 55 percent of soil and not release more than 35 micrograms of dust back into the air.

A new option of the Seal is an Energy Efficiency Rating, which evaluates a vacuum’s energy efficiency. High-efficiency vacuums can significantly lower energy consumption per each vacuum used.

Lastly, green vacuums are built to last. The CRI Seal does not address a vacuum’s durability, but machines need to be designed to withstand the daily wear and tear of the commercial industry. And when they break down, belts, fans, switches and other parts should be easily replaceable.