According to a recent ISSAlert, the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) has published the final version of its Green Cleaning Procurement Specifications and Guidelines for Schools as required by Chapter 548 of the Laws of New York.

The purpose of the specifications is to provide direction and guidance to all elementary and secondary schools in New York State that are required by state law to purchase and use green cleaning and maintenance products, effective September 1, 2006.

Of particular importance, the recently finalized document sets forth specifications for green cleaning products. In regard to chemical based cleaning products and paper products, OGS has adopted by reference products certified by Green Seal, and Environmental Choice. Despite ISSA’s strong recommendation, OGS failed to reference products recognized by the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment Formulator Initiative. In addition, OGS has adopted the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label standard for vacuum cleaners.

OGS also has created Green Cleaning Product Lists that consist primarily of products certified by Green Seal, Environmental Choice and the Carpet and Rug Institute. OGS encourages schools to consult the lists for the purpose of identifying cleaning products that comply with the New York State law.

Vendors that do not have products certified by the aforementioned organizations, but which meet the requirements of these organizations’ standards, can have their products added to the State’s Green Cleaning Product Lists by following the procedures set forth in the Green Cleaning Procurement Specifications and Guidelines for Schools.

The New York State Green Cleaning Procurement Specifications also adopt the Green Seal/Environmental Choice Standard for Industrial and Institutional Hand Soaps (GS 41 / CCD 104) that was finalized in June 2006. However, because the hand soap standard was finalized recently, OGS recognizes it will be months before products will be certified to its requirements. Therefore, New York State is allowing schools to postpone purchasing products certified under this standard until January 2007.

It is interesting to note, however, that OGS did not adopt the Green Seal Standard for Industrial and Institutional Floor Care Products (GS 40). Instead, OGS set forth product performance requirements for floor finishes and strippers on pages 23-24 of its Green Cleaning Product Specifications. Vendors wishing to qualify their floor finish and stripper products for inclusion in the OGS green cleaning products list must certify that their products possess the listed characteristics.

The New York State Green Cleaning Product Specifications also set forth “Best Cleaning Management Practices” which addresses cold water cleaning, the use of products with fragrances and the use of new cleaning technologies and equipment. In addition, the Green Cleaning Product Specifications establish accommodations for “special cleaning practices” that are prescribed by existing laws, regulations or professional guidance, such as the use of sanitizers in food service establishments, and disinfectants in child day care centers.

While the Green Cleaning Product Specifications are intended for schools, the document will also be used to help state agencies implement New York State’s Executive Order No. 134 that requires all state agencies to “…procure and use cleaning products having properties that minimize potential impacts to human health and the environment…”

It is important to note that in introductory comments to the Green Cleaning Product Specifications, OGS pointed out that it is the intent of New York State to evaluate its specifications and guidelines over the next 12-18 months to make the specifications “…even more health and environmentally sensitive…” Along these lines, OGS indicated it anticipates working with the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment in addition to Green Seal and Environmental Choice, as well as with industry and environmental groups.

The OGS has posted a significant amount of information related to the recently finalized green cleaning specifications, including a cost calculator for green cleaning products, here.

To read previous articles relating to this topic, click here.