Does Green Mean Clean?

According to Ed McGuire, facilities maintenance manager, the city first tried green cleaning products 8 years ago; many were tested, and almost all cost more than their chemical counterparts, and used many more products to clean per square foot.

Over the same time period, products have evolved and vastly improved, according to McGuire. With the completion of the city’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold building 3 years ago, green cleaning became a requirement rather than a management decision.

Some of these requirements included using only Green Seal products to clean, low-VOC paint, soap without perfume, and other environmentally sound practices. The city’s custodians now use Green Seal cleaning products in all of their buildings.

“One area we do not use green products at the city and choose to use a hospital-grade disinfectant is for the bio-hazardous areas, namely the nurses’ station at the jail, the crime lab in the police department, and animal control,” says McGuire.

City Custodians Weigh In

City custodians have made it a policy within their division to try the product first for effectiveness, prior to buying. Custodians test the product and complete rating sheets on its performance.

Thus, the most effective product is purchased and used. Currently, the most impressive Green Seal products are the heavy-duty spot cleaners, glass cleaners, floor cleaners, and multipurpose cleaners.

Parks Superintendent Doug Guild agrees with the city’s custodians.

“Parks staff use green products because they are safer and give us good results,” he says. The staff is responsible for cleaning and maintaining more than 54 parks and trails.

“The cost is the same as using chemical products,” he adds.

Green products are used on garbage receptacles, drinking fountains and slides, etc. While green products are effective, parks staff does use chemical disinfectants in a couple of areas, such as urinals and toilets.

Contract For Cleanliness

When contracting with custodial operations, it is critical for employees to use green cleaning products in all facilities.

Most companies are familiar with green products and have their own policy or practice regarding their use. The city of Henderson has contracted with ISS Facility Services (ISS), a worldwide firm operating in more than 53 countries; green cleaning products are required to clean the city’s recreation and utility facilities.

“Concerning the use of green cleaning products, we provide this as an option to (all of) our customers, but we respect our customers’ individual needs,” says Chelsi Bierschwale, ISS communications manager.

Like most companies, ISS has developed its own standards called ISS Green Cleaning, which defines the use and procurement of certified and environmentally friendly chemicals. Through this program, ISS has reduced the use of detergents by 75 percent in 1 year.

Going green can be unnerving in cleaning parks and recreation facilities, but the products have evolved over time. These products provide a great alternative that is environmentally friendly and cost-effective, and also clean as well as their chemical counterparts.

If one is still skeptical, the products can be tested for performance and price. Nothing beats first-hand experience in one’s own facilities.

One thing is clear: green cleaning products offer a safer alternative for humans and the planet.

Sally Ihmels is the Recreation Superintendent for the city of Henderson’s Parks and Recreation Department in Nevada. Reach her at (702) 267-4015, or sally.ihmels@cityofhenderson.com

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