A quick search using a “research” engine – one that pulls articles written on specific subjects – lists industry after industry becoming greener and more sustainable.  Titles such as Greening the Plumbing Industry; The Greening of the Semiconductor Industry; The Greening of Healthcare; Greening Rooftops, capsule and similar industry-focused articles are but a few examples.

And just as these industries are becoming more environmentally responsible, sildenafil so is the commercial interior design industry.  One way this is happening is because the manufacturers that produce carpets, ask floors, fabrics, and the many other items used in commercial interiors are making those products with fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs), helping to protect indoor air quality, as well using more recycled materials, less energy, water, and related natural resources in the process.

However, selection and installation of greener and healthier interior materials is just the initial step toward making facilities healthier.  The greater issue–and the one that is crucial long-term—is how will these products be cleaned and maintained once installed?

The significant role of cleaning methods and cleaning products was made clear several years ago by the Harvard University School of Public Health.  Their studies concluded that all the benefits of installing an environmentally preferable floor covering can be eliminated the very first time this floor is cleaned using traditional floor care chemicals.  This is because some of the chemicals used in floor care are the most powerful and potentially toxic in the professional cleaning industry.

Similarly, the benefit of using green materials in other applications—carpets, counters, furniture, etc.—could be lost as a result of choices made in cleaning methods or products.  That is, unless designers encourage their clients to use the following two options to maintain their environmentally responsible interiors:

  • Use green-certified cleaning chemicals
  • Use no cleaning chemicals at all.

The first option is likely best known. Many cleaning chemicals are now independently tested by such organizations and GreenSeal® UL/Environment, and the EPA’s Design for the Environment program. If products meet the necessary criteria set up by these organizations, they may be marketed as “green-certified.”

The second option, to use no cleaning chemicals at all, is likely to be less familiar to the design industry. However, it is probably the fastest growing trend in the professional cleaning industry since green cleaning was introduced more than twenty years ago.

Referred to as “chemical free” cleaning or using “engineered water,” the essence of this form of cleaning is using systems and procedures that effectively clean and sanitize surfaces without the use of chemicals.

Examples include:

  • Steam vapor cleaning systems
  • Interior pressure washing systems
  • Aqueous ozone technology

The last example, aqueous ozone, has actually been used for over a century to clean such things as beverage bottles, surgical equipment, and even fresh produce. Today the technology has been revamped for use to effectively clean facilities, turning tap water into a cleaning agent for restroom cleaning, floor care, and sanitizing surfaces.

The big benefit of no-chemical cleaning is quite simple: it is the ultimate in green cleaning. The goal of green cleaning is to reduce cleaning’s impact on health and the environment. Using effective systems that clean without chemicals takes green cleaning to a higher level.
Stephen P. Ashkin is founder of the Green Cleaning Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating building owners and suppliers about Green Cleaning and president of The Ashkin Group a consulting firm specializing in Greening the cleaning industry. He is considered the “father of Green Cleaning” and has been inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame (IGIHOF).


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