The prerequisite isn’t the only aspect of green cleaning to receive adjustments. Each of the individual credits has also been updated — many with stricter guidelines.

After developing the green cleaning policy and putting the program into action, both components need to be monitored for effectiveness. As was the case with LEED 2009, cleaning personnel must perform routine inspections to identify areas of improvement. This cleaning audit falls under EQc6: Green Cleaning – Custodial Effectiveness Assessment and is still worth one point. However, LEED v4 is more stringent.

Cleaning providers can still use the APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities Custodial Staffing Guidelines for the audit, or they can use a local equivalent. The facility must score 2.5 or less (previously it was 3).

Managers must also be cautious when purchasing. The Green Cleaning Products and Materials credit is still worth one point and covers the procurement of chemicals, paper and can liners. However, at least 75 percent of purchases (based on cost) must meet specific environmental standards, compared to LEED 2009 when only 30 percent of purchases had to be considered green.

While departments have to purchase substantially more environmentally friendly products, LEED v4 actually makes it easier to earn the credit because there are additional certifications available to choose from. For all product categories, LEED v4 allows products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment standard, in addition to the previously accepted Green Seal and Environmental Choice certifications.

Besides these third-party standards, departments can use ionized water or electrolyzed water in place of chemicals, assuming those products have third-party-verified performance data.

Two other newly accepted options include Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for fiber procurement as acceptable green criteria for paper products, and California Integrated Waste Management requirements for can liners.
Earning the point for The Green Cleaning – Equipment credit also means managers must purchase more green products; in this case, the amount of required green equipment has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.

Other than the increased amounts, much of the mandates for this credit remain the same: vacuums and carpet extractors should meet Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval and floor scrubbers should have on-board chemical meters or use tap water to clean. In addition, all equipment should operate at 70 decibels or less.

One addition to this credit relates to battery equipment. Gel batteries were accepted in LEED 2009; that has now been expanded to also include absorbent glass mat (AGM) and lithium-ion batteries. However, cleaning managers should note that equipment that uses sealed batteries are not acceptable for cleaning heavy loads because battery life will be reduced.

For equipment that LEED doesn’t consider green, these machines should be phased out and replaced at the end of their life with products that meet the criteria. 

Additional Updates

On a cursory glance of the new LEED v4 certification, it may seem that green cleaning lost a second point. But in reality, IEQ Credit 3.5 Green Cleaning – Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control was not deleted; rather it was moved.

Criteria for matting is now part of EQc2 Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies and still worth one point. As in LEED 2009, entryway systems need to be at least 10 feet long and capture dirt entering the building. However, new to LEED v4, mats must be cleaned weekly.

For departments responsible for pest control products, EQc9 Integrated Pest Management merges both outdoor and indoor pest management into one credit, now worth two points. Much of the criteria remains the same, though what is clearer is that staff must have identified roles as part of the IPM team.

Pest preventative measures must be non-toxic; if pest control action is required, the least toxic application should be used. In cases when a stronger pesticide is needed, staff must personally notify sensitive occupants and employees and post a sign for 24 hours. 

LEED is a great opportunity for facility executives to showcase environmental stewardship. With so many changes to the cleaning credits, managers should familiarize themselves with LEED v4 and how their facility can benefit from its implementation. 

DAN WELTIN is the editor in chief of Sanitary Maintenance and Contracting Profits magazines, sister publications to Facility Cleaning Decisions.

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Green Cleaning Points Shrink With LEED v4 Updates