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The Connection Between Green Cleaning and COVID-19

COVID-19 has dominated the news and our collective public consciousness for several months now. As a result, there is an understandable goal for cleaning professionals to review and enhance surface cleaning and disinfecting protocols to welcome building occupants back to healthy work spaces.

But how does this goal of achieving enhanced surface cleaning and disinfecting protocols compare with pre-existing green cleaning practices or organizational sustainability goals?

Very well, as it turns out. The bottom line is that if you have implemented a green cleaning program already, or are looking to implement a green cleaning program, the concepts of building occupant wellness and pathogen control can and should be incorporated. As a matter of fact, an argument can be made that applying green cleaning principles with a focus on protecting building occupant health and wellness has never been more important.

So what are some options to consider, and is there other industry guidance to reference?

LEED Green Building Rating System – Safety First Pilot Credits

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a green building certification standard developed by the US Green Building Council. This voluntary and consensus-based rating system recognizes best-in-class building strategies, practices, and performance, and it is worth noting that even if a building is not pursuing LEED certification, the content and reference material incorporated into the LEED O+M rating system can successfully be used as a guide to describe best practices for operations and maintenance in any high performance facility.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as part of a proposed Healthy Economy Strategy, the USGBC has created several new pilot credits in the LEED rating system to support recovery efforts as businesses, governments, and communities prepare for a post-pandemic world. As a part of this Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy strategy, the following Safety First pilot credits have been introduced:

Additional resources from USGBC related to COVID-19 can also be accessed from their COVID-19 Resources webpage and from their GBCI Adapted Review Process webpage, which describes changes to the certification review process for LEED projects, as well as other rating systems offered by GBCI such as WELL, TRUE, and SITES.

WELL Building Standard – WELL Health-Safety Rating

And speaking of the WELL Building Standard, the International WELL Building Institute has also published resources to help promote building occupant health and wellness in response to COVID-19. The WELL building standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of buildings and communities that impact the health and wellness of people – and the WELL Health-Safety Rating is a subset of the WELL Building Standard designed to focus specifically on building operations and management.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is intended to serve as a guide for facilities which are looking to take steps to prioritize the health and safety of building occupants during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as into the future. The guide focuses on six main health and safety themes, including:

  • Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures
  • Emergency Preparedness Programs
  • Health Service Resources
  • Air & Water Quality Management
  • Stakeholder Engagement & Communication
  • Innovation

This new health and safety rating expands upon the initial guidance and resources provided by IWBI, including the Places Matter – Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery document which provides actionable insights from industry experts to help facility managers navigate the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Great Resources

There are also several other great sources for information available to facilities looking to address COVID-19 concerns while also meeting sustainability goals. Some of these sites include:

  • Green Seal: COVID-19 Resources – a great collection of resources and guidance for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces including specific resources for homes, schools, workplaces, hotels, and cleaning service providers
  • Fitwel: COVID-19 Resources – guidance for real estate professionals, designers, and other decision makers focused on building occupant health
  • EPA: COVID-19 Resources – guidance on disinfectants, water, and PPE, along with links to other governmental resources

WAXIE RE6TM Building Re-Entry: 6 Steps to Occupant Wellness and Pathogen Control

And of course, the WAXIE RE6 Building Re-Entry guidance is tailor-made to assist facilities looking for strategies to control pathogens and protect building occupant wellness while meeting green cleaning and sustainability goals.

A three-pronged strategy of enhanced hand hygiene, comprehensive surface cleaning, and targeted surface disinfecting can be harnessed to help break the chain of infection, and protect building occupant health and wellness. When combined with the right mix of expertise and training solutions, PPE and safety supplies, and a comprehensive approach which identifies and mitigates other sources of indoor pollutants and pathogens, the WAXIE EDU RE6™ approach can assist with preparations to welcome back people to your facilities, as well as assist with cleaning and disinfecting best practices on an ongoing basis.

As commercial buildings continue to welcome building occupants back to the workplace, WAXIE will continue to highlight principles, best practices, and standard operating procedures which will assist in making sure these spaces are cleaner, healthier, greener, and safer.

Please contact your WAXIE Account Consultant for additional information.