Earth Day comes once a year on April 22nd, and it’s been this way since 1970. Fifty-two years later, hundreds of countries and over one billion individuals participate in this environmentally-conscious holiday established by the U.S. environmental movement. Rampant pollution in the 20th century served as the catalyst for this movement and Earth Day’s inception. Though many strides have been made in the 21st century to reduce air pollution, move away from fossil fuels, and curb our use of harmful chemicals, the Earth and its inhabitants require ongoing protection as the population grows and developing countries become more industrialized.
Earth Day is about raising awareness of the various environmental concerns that threaten our natural home and way of life – it’s also about encouraging habits that help the environment each and every day, no matter how small. While environmental issues might seem too large for any one of us to control, small efforts made by individuals and institutions across the globe can make a major impact. Indeed, your educational facility can make a number of changes that benefit your occupants, your local environment, and our planet. This Earth Day, consider adopting green cleaning practices and investing in other programs that help preserve the planet and its ecosystems.
Here are some great ways to celebrate Earth Day at your educational facility with green cleaning protocols and eco-friendly initiatives.
What to Know About Green Cleaning
What Is Green Cleaning?
At first, the concept of “green cleaning” might seem redundant. After all, isn’t the goal of cleaning to pick up debris, improve air quality, and otherwise make areas safer and more beautiful? Cleaning practices are certainly meant to achieve these goals – however, many traditional cleaning solutions aren’t exactly eco-friendly (they’re not always people-friendly, either). Chemicals like phthalates, glycol ethers, chlorine, and ammonia are effective at killing germs, tearing through grime, and polishing surfaces, but they’re also highly toxic. Used regularly and in large quantities, these toxic cleaning solutions diminish a facility’s indoor air quality, create health risks for all occupants, and bleed out into the larger environment.
Green cleaning refers to products and practices that mitigate the potentially harmful effects delivered by traditional cleaning methods while still keeping facilities clean, safe, and sanitary. It’s important to note, however, that not all products labeled “green,” “natural,” “eco-friendly,” or “biodegradable” should be used as you attempt to shift to more environmentally-friendly cleaning practices – some of these products still contain toxic ingredients, so it’s imperative to read labels carefully and adhere to a high standard to help you separate bogus ecological claims from specific and worthwhile ones.
Audit Your Facility’s Protocols
Though you should focus your attention on eco-friendly practices at your educational facility year-round, Earth Day presents a potent reminder to examine what you’re really doing to achieve these aims. Thoroughly audit the cleaning products and equipment your janitorial staff use on a regular basis. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has strict requirements regarding the types of chemicals that can be used inside a facility if it wishes to remain a member or adhere to the highest standards. In particular, the USGBC requires that 90% of chemicals purchased each year must meet either a Green Seal or EPA standard. If upon auditing your cleaning solutions you find that your institution does not meet this standard, now’s the time to make an adjustment.
In addition to examining your current cleaning protocols, you should also consider the other ways in which your school can help the environment. Look into practices such as green waste removal, litterless lunches, sustainable swaps, green energy initiatives, (e.g., solar panel installation), plant installations, school recycling programs, and more.
Invest in the Right Green Cleaning Solutions
Getting a concrete sense of your school’s cleaning practices will allow you to make meaningful changes that benefit your people and the environment at large. As mentioned above, organizations like the USGBC recommend specific commercial cleaning solutions that help facilities remain compliant and eco-friendly. In addition to investing in Green Seal and EPA-standard chemicals, you must also invest in energy-efficient cleaning equipment, such as high-speed buffers with dust control settings and HEPA vacuum cleaners that meet the Carpet and Rug Institute’s standards. Moreover, your school’s cleaning and janitorial staff should be properly trained in green cleaning practices so they’re well-versed in how to identify cleaning products and safely use new equipment.
Aim for LEED Certification
One way to ensure that your educational facility adheres to the highest green cleaning standards is to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Developed by the USGBC, LEED is touted as the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Facilities receive LEED credits by displaying tangible efforts that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and/or indoor environmental quality. As such, facilities that wish to achieve LEED certification must carefully document their commercial cleaning protocols. These logs are also required for employee training, equipment repair, chemical storage, floor maintenance, and more. Facilities that achieve or exceed LEED certification are safer, healthier, and more environmentally-friendly than their competitors – this is both beneficial in its own right and in terms of boosting your business’ reputation.
How The Budd Group Helps Schools Go Green and Stay Green
Earth Day will come and go as it does every year. Your school’s cleaning protocols, on the other hand, should be held to the highest green standard each and every day. At The Budd Group, we help our clients reach and maintain their green goals on multiple levels. As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), we’re dedicated to managing both our business and our clients’ facilities in an environmentally-responsible manner. It is our corporate policy to protect the quality and diversity of our environment and continually improve our performance with regard to sustainable, ecologically sound best practices.
The Budd Group can help you reduce your impact on the environment through our green janitorial services and family of green programs, which exceed LEED standards and meet CIMS-GB standards. We also provide environmentally-friendly solutions for customers who are currently pursuing LEED certification to help them reach compliance.
To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!