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Environmentally Preferable Cleaning Products and Supplies (Appendix B)

Appendix B: Environmentally Preferable Cleaning Products and Supplies: The building manager should strive to use environmentally preferable products, which are defined as “products that have a lesser or reduced harmful effect on human health and the environment compared with products or services that serve the same purpose” (Source: U.S. Executive Order 13101).

The majority of products are not yet certified as environmentally preferable by a credible body. This does not mean that they are necessarily harmful or bad, but that a reliable third party has not validated them. In these cases, check product labels for undesirable ingredients (see the section on Cleaning Products), ask the manufacturer for full disclosure of ingredients and proof that they are safe, and/or whether product ingredients were selected using EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) safer ingredient criteria.

Products may include:

  • General or all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, restroom cleaners, glass cleaners, and carpet cleaners
  • Floor finishes and floor strippers
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Toilet tissue and facial tissue
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Plastic trash can liners.

Ideally, to determine which products are environmentally preferable, look for established green certification, recognition, and/or health and safety labels on the product packaging. Some of these programs and their criteria are described below.

Recognised Products— EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE)

  • The EPA DfE Program is for product formulators.
  • DfE screens each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects; the product must contain only those ingredients that are least harmful in their class.
  • DfE provide formulators information on safer substitutes for chemicals of concern.
  • The program will be strengthened by annual desk or paper audits and onsite audits.

Certified Products GREENGUARD

  • The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) was founded in 2001 and seeks to protect human health through programs that reduce chemical exposure and improve indoor air quality.
  • GEI oversees third-party certification programs that identify acceptable product emission standards and certify low-emitting products. GEI also establishes building standards designed to control mold and moisture.
  • GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®: A product certification program for low-emitting building materials, furniture, furnishings, finishes, cleaning products, electronics, and consumer products.
    GREENGUARD Children & Schools(SM) Certified: A certification program for low-emitting building materials, furniture, finishes, cleaning products, electronics and consumer products in environments where children and sensitive populations spend extended periods of time.

Certified Products Information-Based Environmental Labeling (IBEL)

The cleaning association ISSA’s Information-Based Environmental Labeling (IBEL) program will serve as a single environmental label that embraces existing labels while filling gaps that exist. It will:

Help purchasers make informed decisions
Harmonize product data gathering and how it appears on labels
Expand third-party verification to products not represented in current thirdparty labeling systems
“Reward continuous improvement by innovative manufacturers producing leadership products that continue to reduce potential adverse health and environmental impacts” (Source: ISSA).

Certified Products—UL®

UL Environment (ULE) offers Environmental Claims Validation™ (ECV), a service for testing and validating manufacturers’ self-declared environmental claims, and Sustainable Products Certification™ (SPC), a service for testing and certifying products to accepted industry standards for environmental sustainability. A partial list of claims it will test and validate:

  • Recycled content
  • Rapidly renewable materials
  • Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions
  • Volatile organic compound (VOC) content
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Hazardous or toxic substances
  • Mold resistance
  • Degradability

Health and Safety Rating

HMIS HMIS (Hazardous Materials Identification System) is a hazard rating system using a label with four colour coded bars representing hazard categories (BlueHealth, Red-Flammability, Orange-Physical Hazard, White-Personal Protection). Each category is assigned a numerical value from 0–4, with 4 being the most hazardous.

Certified Performance

CRI Seal of Approval The CRI Seal of Approval (SOA) program identifies effective carpet-cleaning equipment and solutions:

  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Extractors and truck mounts
  • Cleaning solutions/carpet-spotting products
  • Carpet cleaning systems (solutions and equipment)

Recognised Performance

IEHA High Performance Cleaning Product (HPCP) with UMass Lowell TURI Lab. The High Performance Cleaning Product (HPCP) recognition is the International Executive Housekeepers Association’s (IEHA’s) voluntary fee-based program, which tests green hard surface cleaning product performance on real-world soils.


Appendix A: Housing Complex-Specific Green Cleaning Plan
Appendix B: Environmentally Preferable Cleaning Products and Supplies
Appendix C: Powered Equipment Use and Maintenance Plan
Appendix D: Acronyms and Definitions in This Chapter
Appendix E: Toxicity Categories for Pesticide and Disinfectant Products

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