Among the array of commercial vacuums on the market are specialty machines that feature high-performance filtration and low decibel outputs. There are many varieties of filtration on the market, but two stand out as particularly significant in a cleaning for health environment.

Many vacuums now offer HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) or ULPA (ultra low penetration air) filtration. This special filtration is necessary in certain environments, such as cleanrooms in industrial settings, where the goal is to eliminate all but the tiniest of particles from the environment. For example, a speck of lint could short-circuit a microchip in a manufacturing facility. HEPA filtration will suffice for some cleanrooms, but the fewer particles allowed per cubic meter of air, the more likely an ULPA filter will be needed. HEPA filters must remove at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles by particle count of 0.3 microns. ULPA filters remove particles 0.12 microns in size with 99.999 percent efficiency.

Many in the cleaning industry are linking the recent green cleaning and cleaning for health movements to the popularity of high-level filtration vacuums. Even though settings such as office or retail perhaps don’t require the same levels of filtration that more sterilized environments do, building service contractors across the country are adopting HEPA vacuums as their sole machines for use across the board. That demonstrates a commitment to the health of building occupants, regardless of the demands of the environment.

The definition of green cleaning has also been expanded to include day cleaning, a practice that is hailed by some as energy-saving and good for enhancing the reputation of janitors as well as worker retention. Day cleaning eliminates the need for workers to be in office and commercial spaces after-hours, meaning lights and heating/cooling systems no longer need to be in use during the evening.

But day cleaning creates the obstacle of working around tenants who are in the midst of their own work days. Not only are lower decibel vacuum cleaners easier on the ears of operators, some of whom are using vacuums for hours per shift, but they enable quiet vacuuming that is unobtrusive to tenants. BSCs can also purchase a machine that has adjustable sound levels, such as quiet and high-powered performance modes. The average sound level in an office environment is 64 to 68 decibels. Most quiet vacuums perform at 70 decibels or less.

Exerpted from the August 2006 issue of Housekeeping Solutions and the May 2006 issue of Contracting Profits.