We know that clean outdoor air makes people feel happy and energetic. Unfortunately, most people spend the majority of their time indoors, where air quality can be poor, which tends to make them sluggish and can negatively impact performance. Additionally, stagnant winter indoor air accumulates dust and moisture that leads to mold growth, allergies and illness.
Building owners can combat these unhealthy conditions by not only spring cleaning facilities, but also by green cleaning. The goal of green cleaning is to minimize the effects cleaning can have on facility occupants and workers as well as the environment.
In an article titled “Improve Indoor Air Quality with Green Cleaning Techniques” by Jill Rasmussen, owner of All Pro Cleaning, she discusses how to put together a green cleaning plan. The following information was taken from her article. When it comes to green cleaning, people tend to focus on selecting nonhazardous chemicals. Thomas Barron, a pollution prevention consultant, worked with the EPA to put together a guide on how to select and use safe janitorial chemicals. The guide mentions ingredients that cause the greatest risk: hydrochloric and phosphoric acid, caustic hydroxides, solvents, surfactants and disinfectants. When purchasing environmentally friendly products, look for the Green Seal, a private organization that provides a service to chemical manufacturers to certify products satisfy GS-37 standards. The GS-37 standard has 15 criteria for certifying general purpose cleaning products.
A green cleaning plan that comprehensively describes cleaning methods, certified green chemical list and schedules for routine and periodic cleaning is also important when it comes to cleaning. The plan should address high-traffic areas, storage of chemicals, proper ventilation and identify sources of indoor contaminates and pollutants.
While inspecting the ventilation system, property managers should use all their senses of look, smell and feel to identify potential IAQ problems. Warning signs would be uncomfortable air temperatures, drafts and high or low humidity. Air should be flowing in and out of grills, supply and return vents. Listen for unusual noises that may indicate potential problems such as obstructions. Smell for unusual odors like mold, mildew and chemicals that can spread through the ventilation system. On an annual basis, air filters should be changed and ducting cleaned with a system approved by (NADCA) National Air Duct Cleaning Association.
Another factor that affects IAQ is managing moisture control. Property managers should look for signs of water damage like discoloration in ceiling tiles, walls and floors, and check areas where moisture is common, such as restrooms, kitchens, windows, roofs and ducting. Plumbing should be free of condensate and leaks. In the event a leak is discovered, repairs should be handled as quickly as possible.
Cleaning the indoor air, removing dust and performing deep spring cleaning will rejuvenate building occupants and give re-birth to facilities.