The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has introduced a new pilot credit in the LEED green building rating system called Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space. It is intended to support buildings and spaces as they work to respond to COVID-19 through sustainable, healthy practices.
The credit provides guidance on effectively cleaning and disinfecting buildings using green cleaning best practices that also meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines relative to COVID-19. Green cleaning strategies outlined in LEED are intended to help buildings reduce levels of chemical, biological and particulate contaminants that can compromise air quality, human health, building finishes and systems, as well as the environment.
“Essentially USGBC is providing a ‘roadmap’ to guide building owners and managers in ways to meet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleaning and hygiene requirements to address the pandemic, while still using Green Cleaning products,” according to the president of The Ashkin Group, Stephen Ashkin who helped develop the credit.
To earn the credit, facilities must create a policy and implement practices that focus on a healthy indoor environment and worker safety. A team must be in place to implement the program and take the following actions:
- Describe the approach, including a timeline outlining when new cleaning practices were put in place for COVID-19, along with a copy of the green cleaning policy or program.
- Prepare a list of cleaning products and materials used or purchased to clean the facility, noting which are and are not compliant with green cleaning criteria.
- Utilize cleaning equipment that has ergonomic design features to reduce worker injuries due to vibration, noise, and user fatigue.
- Identify “high-touch points” along with frequencies for cleaning and disinfecting them.
- Give a description of the cleaning staff training programs developed specifically to address COVID-19.
- Include training details for the proper application of disinfectants and the use of personal protective equipment.
- Implement quantitative testing and verification of the cleanliness of surfaces.
- Educate occupants to ensure they understand the steps taken to disinfect and clean the facility and protect human health.
“One benefit of this program is to show that the professional cleaning industry can stop the spread of COVID-19 without resorting to conventional cleaning products that can harm the environment,” said Ashkin. “Fighting this pandemic, protecting human health, and protecting the environment are all still possible.”
USGBC is focused on leveraging LEED as a tool to help protect human health and the environment, while also restoring the economy. The roll out of this new credit and others are part of the green building organization’s new economic recovery strategy, called Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy, which was released last month.
“We don’t have to choose between public health and a healthy economy,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the USGBC. “The future will require both to thrive. Our priority now is to build people’s trust that their spaces are healthy and have a positive impact not only on them but the economy at large.”
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