Whether you are a facility manager, housekeeping supervisor, cleaning manager or building occupant, you are no stranger to green initiatives. Cleaning associations and industry publications have been stressing the importance of green cleaning for years and industry professionals have been listening.

Facilities across the country have adopted green cleaning programs with a goal toward sustainability. Even lawmakers have jumped on board, introducing state-wide regulations requiring that specific facilities use green cleaning products. For example, states such as Vermont and New Jersey — to name a few — now require the use of green-certified cleaning products in all state government facilities.

Jump-Starting Green
Vermont was one of the front-runners in the race toward sustainability when in July 1995 — according to regulations enforced by the governor — the state began practicing waste reduction in an effort to reduce pollution. In 2001, state officials expanded green initiatives and the Department of Buildings & General Services formalized a policy ordering all state facilities to buy and use only environmentally preferable custodial cleaning products.

Over the last six years, this law has been updated numerous times to incorporate advancements within the cleaning industry. It now requires that all cleaning products used within state facilities meet very specific environmental safety and occupational health criteria, as well as Green Seal Standard GS-37 for Industrial and Institutional Cleaners.

According to government reports, the switch to green initiatives has been widely accepted by both workers and building occupants throughout the state. Stemming from the success of Vermont’s law, other states across the country have considered adopting similar regulations.

Work in Progress
New Jersey jumped on the green bandwagon in January 2006, when acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed an executive order to require the use of cleaning products that minimize potential impacts of human health and the environment in all state-owned facilities.

According to the regulation, the Department of the Treasury, along with the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Environmental Protection, will establish guidelines or regulations to the use of these products.

To date, no official program has been implemented into action. Since its introduction, though, government officials have been busy collecting the necessary information to get this program up and running. Mark Perkiss, New Jersey Treasury Department spokesperson, commented that the process has been a long and involved one.

“We are still in the process of developing standards for these cleaning products,” he says, but adds that their goal towards green cleaning in all state facilities is still top-of-mind.

Although the process is often lengthy, some state officials are so passionate about greening government facilities, they have begun offering incentives. Legislation was introduced in both the Florida senate and house that requires state agencies to implement environmentally preferable cleaning products. Under this bill, state agencies will be allowed to pay up to a 10 percent price preference for green cleaning products.

Some states have successfully and seamlessly implemented green cleaning programs, but the process is not an easy one. Some government officials comment that the success of this type of program depends on the cooperation they receive from product manufacturers and industry experts. Regardless, green initiatives rank high on lawmakers lists and will continue to be addressed in government facilities throughout the country.