How important is the work building service contractors do to protect building occupant health? It depends on whom you ask.

Last month, the U.S. Green Building Council introduced their new version of LEED. Under the revised criteria, there is a greater emphasis on energy efficiency, but it comes at the expense of cleaning: there are three fewer points for BSCs to earn by green cleaning. Granted, LEED is aimed at creating environmentally friendly facilities, but it is no secret that buildings designed to be good for the Earth are also good for the people working inside them. Green cleaning can help improve indoor air quality, creating a healthier environment with more productive workers, but these new regulations put cleaning on the back burner.

Ironically, coinciding with the launch, a new virus, H1N1 or “swine flu,” put the world on high alert. In the U.S. specifically, more than 600 confirmed cases were reported and many schools across the country closed for a week. What was one answer to help stop the virus? Cleaning. Proper disinfecting and hand washing proved effective in preventing the spread of H1N1.

In the state of emergency, cleaning jumped to the top of the list as a preventative tool in keeping building occupants safe. Yet, when it comes to the day-to-day health and safety of tenants, cleaning falls short with green certifications. Why, when in fact BSCs and proper cleaning can protect building occupants threatened by a pandemic or even the common flu? Bottom line is, cleaning should not be cut, whether for green certifications or because of a failing economy. It’s too crucial when it comes to protecting occupant health. Well, it is if you ask me.