Illinois may become the second state, after New York, to set guidelines requiring green cleaning in schools. Legislation mandating green cleaning in Illinois elementary and secondary schools was introduced in the House of Representatives in early February. Rep. Karen May, a Democrat and chair of the Environmental Health Committee, authored the Green Cleaning Schools Act. That committee passed the bill, HB 0895, with two amendments on Feb. 21. It now will go to the full House for consideration.

The bill requires the Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council (IGGCC) — a council to coordinate state policies and projects to reduce pollution and incorporate resource conservation into government operations — to establish guidelines and specifications for green cleaning and maintenance products used in school facilities. All public and private schools must then establish a green-cleaning policy that includes the exclusive purchase and use of environmentally sensitive cleaning products as pursuant to guidelines.

Concerns over the effects of harsh chemicals on student absenteeism and custodial health are the impetus behind the bill, which was crafted with help from the Healthy Schools Campaign.

“What I’m hearing from the facilities managers is these chemical cocktails are very dangerous, so all the healthcare groups, the education groups are basically in favor of it so we have a very strong coalition,” May says.

Ron Goerne, president of Service Resource, a Chicago-area building service contractor, says the support of the Healthy Schools Campaign is key to the bill’s success.

“It’s a great, great start and I think with the healthy schools association behind it and pushing it, there’ll be some good things coming out of it,” he says.

If a cleaning industry association were to work with the campaign, they could help set an industry standard for green cleaning in schools, Goerne adds. There is industry support for the bill, Goerne says, and even though the public misperception that green cleaning is more costly persists, he believes there is sufficient and convincing evidence to the contrary.

“If you apply all the basic principals [of green cleaning], you’re going to save money, not spend more money, which is kind of the myth out there,” he says.

Green cleaning as a whole has come a long way, and the industry is ready for legislation mandating safer cleaning practices.
“I think our whole industry is ready for it. We need it bad. And look at the strides that have been made within the last three years, five years,” Goerne says. “It’s dramatic.”

May anticipates strong support in both the House and Senate for the bill.

“Based on the number of sponsors, I think we’ll have no trouble passing it,” she says. “Everyone recognizes it’s a very good bill.”

CIMS Case Study Candidates Chosen

ISSA has picked 24 candidates to participate in the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) Certification Case Study Program. Participant organizations range in size from 20 to 5,000 full-time positions, are located throughout the United States and Canada and service a wide variety of facility types, including commercial, healthcare and industrial. The organizations will undergo individual assessment, and those who are certified will be promoted in specialized marketing case studies that will target the purchasing and facilities management communities.

CIMS outlines five areas of best management practices regarded to be the cornerstones of a cleaning organization: quality systems; service delivery; human resources; health, safety and environmental stewardship; and management commitment. The program will be open to the industry this fall.


After nearly a month-long strike, Twin Cities janitors secured a tentative three-year contract agreement in early February that would award them affordable family health insurance, higher wages and more full-time positions. The contract was overwhelmingly approved by the union, SEIU Local 26.

A federal investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement culminated with a sweep of more than 200 illegal janitorial workers in 18 states in late February. The workers were employed by Florida-based Rosenbaum-Cunningham International Inc. Three of the building service contractor’s top officials have been charged with fraud and tax crimes.