While environmental concerns continue to be a hot button issue in the U.S., the trend of building sustainable facilities has increased in popularity too. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a commonly used green building rating system and a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement. From universities to office buildings to airports, the number of LEED-certified projects in the U.S. rose from 296 certifications in 2006 to over 65,000 in 2017. The added emphasis on sustainability has brought about an increase in third party green certifications, as buildings try to enforce environmentally friendly practices for both interiors and exteriors.
For building service contractors (BSCs) hired to keep facilities in top-notch shape, implementing an eco-friendly carpet cleaning program is fundamental for properly maintaining environmentally certified buildings.
The Benefits of Going Green
BSCs don’t need to take extraordinary measures to keep their cleaning responsibilities sustainable. With the right equipment in place, organizations can realize numerous benefits that simultaneously support the environment.
Consider these less obvious, yet desirable perks of green carpet care:
- Saving water – Finding a system that prioritizes saving water like low-moisture encapsulation is one of the easiest ways to make your carpet cleaning regimen greener. Unlike hot water extraction systems, the Whittaker Smart Care® System puts less demand on a facility’s water consumption, using 3 to 12 times less water than the alternative. Regular use of the system results in annual consumption of approximately 1,061 gallons of water, which is far less than the 3,300 to 13,333 gallons per year that traditional extractors require.
- Cutting down on drying time – Low-moisture encapsulation systems are simple to set up and use. Additionally, they drastically reduce carpet drying time, requiring just 20-30 minutes to fully dry after cleaning. This in turn gives BSCs the opportunity to clean while occupants remain in the building during the day. Day cleaning schedules eliminate the need to run electricity and HVAC systems for cleaners at night, thereby reducing energy use.
- Improving air quality – Whittaker’s carpet care system has a Seal of Approval from the Carpet and Rug Institute for Superior Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality. Better air quality levels benefit building occupant and employee wellness, and bolster overall cleanliness and health standards.
- Reduce need to replace carpet– Carpet that’s discarded prematurely typically gets sent to a landfill which increases waste. Improper care can damage carpet that’s built to last for years and replacements can be very costly. However, by choosing environmentally conscious cleaning methods, carpet can retain its look and feel for longer and reduce strain on our nation’s landfills.
Meeting Sustainability Standards
Whittaker has long acknowledged the sustainability movement in facility management and created green carpet cleaning machines and chemistry for the benefit of facility managers and occupants. These services adhere to the national benchmarks for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings as outlined by LEED.
Using the right carpet care equipment, like Whittaker’s Smart Care® systems, can help buildings earn LEED credits that contribute to certification under the program created by the U.S. Green Building Council. For example, the machines do not exceed noise levels of 70 decibels, do not pollute the air with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and eliminate wastewater entirely. Under LEED, Whittaker’s sustainable carpet care machines earn credits under the categories of Indoor Environmental Quality and Materials & Resources.
In addition to selecting and using a superior machine, carpet cleaning chemistry should also further an organization’s sustainability goals. Founded in 1989, Green Seal is a non-profit organization that employs science-based testing and a rigorous set of criteria to accurately identify sustainable products. Several of Whittaker’s CRYSTAL® Chemistry products have earned this certification under the GS-37 category – Cleaning Products for Industrial and Institutional Use. That means these products do not contain substances that cause or make asthma worse or ingredients with chronic inhalation toxicity. This category also addresses product performance, human health protection and low VOCs to prevent air pollution in places with sensitive groups like schools, daycares and long-term care facilities.
Established in 1991, the WoolSafe Organization is devoted to promoting best practices in carpet and rug care and operates an accreditation program for products that meet strict requirements. Whittaker’s CRYSTAL DRY® EXTRA and CRYSTAL® Quick Restore are WoolSafe approved cleaning agents. These products contain no dyes or added fragrances and are safe to use in any facility for daily cleaning.
Easing into Environmental Stewardship
Whether a facility is already LEED-certified, is seeking certification or simply wants to adhere to sustainability best practices, the BSC responsible for overseeing maintenance must support environmental goals. Beyond thinking of America’s environmental concerns on a grand scale, using green products to clean buildings demonstrates commitment to the health and safety of facility occupants and visitors.
Implementing a carpet cleaning program that reduces water and energy use and landfill waste is an important yet easy step that makes a positive impact on the lifespan of carpet, indoor air quality and more. Understanding the role of sustainability certifications and carefully selecting the right equipment and chemicals can help your operation ensure effective carpet cleaning and stain removal without negatively impacting the environment..