GCI Green Building

By: R. Michael Richmond

For hundreds of years, the janitorial service has been the forgotten and ignored industry. Suddenly, it has become the legitimate starting point for buildings that want to Go Green. The concept of Green relates primarily to the health and well-being of the people who inhabit our homes, schools, offices, and factories everywhere. The pressure of federal, state, and city mandates will soon force all buildings to transition to Green, and it often starts with the janitorial service.

What will drive this movement is the demand for Green offices and Green buildings. One interesting example is the state of Florida that passed a ruling that withheld state business from any hotel that did not qualify as a Green hotel. The affect was immediate and profound as the state is a significant part of Florida hotel revenue.

Both New York and Illinois have passed similar versions of the Green School Act that required all schools to adopt Green products and Green practices in the daily cleaning of their facilities. New York has now issued notices that all building owners have a time frame in which they must take their buildings Green. Other states are sure follow New York and Illinois, and cities are passing a variety of mandates on local businesses.

You already know that Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13101 that required all government agencies and building to install Green products and services. George W Bush signed another executive order strengthening Green requirements in government facilities. Already, cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, and Fort Lauderdale are promoting their cities as "Green Cities" asking all companies and corporations to "Go Green." You can easily see why knowledgeable people are predicting that the Green market will take over all businesses in the next two years.

Beware of Green pretenders, however. Many janitorial services are using token efforts to participate in this new, Green economy. They are adding a few Green products to their janitor cart and they will pick up some HEPA vacuums as the older models wear out. The fact is that you cannot buy Green in a bottle. It is a practice as much as it is the product being used. When all janitorial services have adding in a few Green products, we will reach something called "Green Equalization" where all look alike but none are fully qualified.

The great separator of pretenders from Green janitorial services is their training and certification. This seems the only way to validate the level of knowledge and the commitment to reputable Green services. Green Clean Institute is now the largest training and certification program in America and Canada. Rather than self-appointment as a Green janitorial firm, it is important that an independent third party organization establishes a standard and required training for true certification. When a company who does the service also sets their own standard for performance, we are all left with arbitrary and conflicting ideas of what to expect.

Green Seal certifies products, but Green Clean Institute certifies janitorial services. If your company is "Going Green," you will want to look into the GCI Green Building program. You should also require that your janitorial/cleaning service become Green Clean certified as well. Frankly, there is no substitute for the quality, training, support, and certification of Green Clean Institute. As the largest certification organization for janitorial services, Green Clean Institute is the best resource for Green Business.

Remember that Green is not a substitute word for environmentalism. It directly refers to the health quality of a facility and the health impact on the people who inhabit that building. If your company is planning to "Go Green," the key issues are not energy or water conservation, building materials, or access to public transportation. The whole project is to improve the indoor air quality and the continued good health of all the people in that facility.

We are in a major transition period that requires us to move from the standard practices of the past to the better practices that come from Green Awareness. It seems to be more than an American issue since every country knows that we must preserve and conserve our precious resources. It seems to be only a question of whether each of us will make the change voluntarily or by government regulation.

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