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At the Green Cleaning Network we are developing our own international standard for green cleaning.  The first draft is below and will continually be updated.                                 

Sustainable Cleaning Service Standard


February 6, 2020

Cleaning for health, environment and the future


Edition. This version is Pilot Version 1.3 (1st edition) from February 6, 2020.

General. This standard is being developed in an open and transparent process with stakeholder input to include producers, users, and general interests. Efforts have been specifically made to solicit the input and address the needs of building owners and facility managers, cleaning organizations and cleaning personnel, experts in Green Building operations and maintenance, as well as other interested in sustainability and the professional cleaning industry.

The requirements in the standard are based on an assessment of the environmental, health, or social impacts associated with the products, services, or organizations covered in the scope of the standard; and take into consideration existing efforts to define sustainability and the operations and maintenance of Green Buildings.

Furthermore, these requirements recognize the inevitable trade-offs when dealing with the multiple and complex issues addressed by this standard by focusing on the hot spots in order to address those issues that are most relevant to cleaning and protecting the environment, health and society.

These requirements are subject to revision, and generally establish standards above and beyond regulatory compliance. This standard neither modifies nor supersedes laws and regulations. Any conformity assessment to this standard requires compliance with all applicable laws and regulations for the manufacturing and marketing of the cleaning service.

Provisions for health and safety have not been included in this standard, since they are supervised by regulatory agencies. Adequate safeguards should be employed for all personnel and property, and for all tests that involve health or safety considerations.

This standard may not anticipate a feature of the service or the products used by the service that may significantly, and negatively, increase its impact on the environment, health, or society. In such a situation, the Green Cleaning Network will generally amend a standard to account for the unanticipated environmental, health, or societal impacts.

Normative references (e.g., other standards) in this standard intend to refer to the most recent edition of the normative reference. Test methods may be required for product evaluation. Unless explicitly stated that a specified method is the only acceptable one, the intent of the standard is that an equivalent test method may be accepted at the Green Cleaning Network’s sole discretion.

Certification to this standard shall be awarded only by Green Cleaning Network, or, with the Green Cleaning Network’s explicit written permission.

Disclaimer of Liability. The Green Cleaning Network, as the developer of this standard, shall not incur any obligations or liability for any loss or damages, including, without limitation, indirect, consequential, special, or incidental damages, arising out of or in connection with the interpretation or adoption of, reliance upon, certification by, or any other use of this Standard by any party. The Green Cleaning Network makes no express or impl­ied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, nor any other express or implied warranty with respect to this Standard.

table of contents

BACKGROUND.................................................................................................................. 4

MISSION OF THE GREEN CLEANING NETWORK...................................................................... 4

APPROACH TO STANDARD DEVELOPMENT................................................................................. 4

THE DEFINITION.............................................................................................................................................. 4

WHO MAY BE CERTIFIED............................................................................................................................ 5

REQUIREMENTS............................................................................................................. 6


1.A: COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE CLEANING............................................................... 6

1.B: MANANGEMENT OF SUSTAINABLE CLEANING.......................................................... 6

1.C: PUBLIC AWARENESS AND COMMUNITIES........................................................................ 7


2.A: ENVIRONMENT................................................................................................................................... 8

2.B: CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY................................................................................. 8

2.C: GOVERNANCE...................................................................................................................................... 9


3.A: MANAGEMENT CONTROLS AND ACCOUNTABILITY............................................ 10


3.C: QUALITY CONTROL....................................................................................................................... 11

3.D: PRODUCTIVITY AND CLEANING ASSIGNMENTS..................................................... 12

3.E: TRAINING ON PROCEDURES. HEALTH AND ERGONOMICS............................. 12

3.F: TRAINING ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY.............................. 13

3.G: PRODUCT PROCUREMENT........................................................................................................ 15

TERMS, DEFINITIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS...................................................... 16



The mission of the Green Cleaning Network is to:

      Create a global movement that promotes the importance of cleaning as a cost-effective health protection strategy, while minimizing adverse impacts on the environment.

      Develop strategies, standards, certifications, credentials, training and other programs that engage all parts of the cleaning industry including cleaning personnel, service providers, product manufacturers, distributors, property and facility managers, and other purchasers.

      Move the global cleaning industry beyond just the use of Green products towards becoming sustainable companies themselves.

      Mentor the next generation of leaders in the cleaning industry.


The Green Cleaning Network’s approach is to develop:

      Programs that shall consider the needs of local markets.  While every country shares the goal to protect human health, society and the environment, but the current status of the local cleaning industry may vary significantly.  Thus, programs shall be based on a global framework while taking into account the specific needs of the local industry allowing each to advance towards the goal at their own pace.

      Programs that shall consider cost and technical issues to minimize barriers for small and medium-size organizations.

      Programs that shall engage governments, property management companies, building owners and the like to create demand in the marketplace.

      Programs that shall consider engagement, transparency, continual improvement and a commitment to protecting health, society and the environment as the keys to long term success.

the definition

The Green Cleaning Network has determined that a Sustainable Cleaning Program shall be an effective cleaning program including the products and processes that protect building occupant and cleaning personnel health, while reducing impacts on the environment.

Furthermore, the Green Cleaning Network has determined that a Sustainable Cleaning Program goes beyond those products and processes to address the organization’s commitment to sustainability principals developed by organizations such as the United Nations Environmental Programs including the 10 Principals of the UN Global Compact, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project; along with the use of Green Building and cleaning industry standards and requirements.

who may be certified

The Green Cleaning Network will award its Sustainable Cleaning certification to any cleaning service provider or in-house cleaning program that fulfills the requirements of this standard.  No product manufacturer or distributor may achieve this certification.  Although company advertisements may include reference to products that support this standard, it remains the responsibility of each individual program to ensure that the products they use do in fact meet the criteria set forth in this standard.

The certification is valid for 12 months from the date of award.

Certification will entitle any cleaning service provider or in-house program to publish this achievement in advertisements and promotional materials as long as certification remains current. 

Section 1:     organizational policy ON SUSTAINABLE CLEANING

INTENT: The intent of this section is to address and confirm the organization’s commitment to a Sustainable Cleaning program.  This commitment will be measured in terms of a clear organizational policy that addresses key success factors, along with ongoing communications efforts to inform and engage building occupants, cleaning personnel, visitors and other building users.


INTENT: The intent of this section is to address the following policy issues associated with Sustainable Cleaning from an organizational perspective. The policy shall address:

1.A.1:  Sustainable Cleaning is defined as ensuring a clean, neat and healthy built environment with methods that avoid compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and is a fundamental aspect of sound business and facility management.

1.A.2:  Sustainable Cleaning is an organizational commitment and an integral part of the pursuit of good corporate citizenship, fundamental sound business practices and a healthier environment for all organization’s building occupants.

1.A.3:  Sustainable Cleaning is becoming increasingly inter-linked with humanitarian and social issues as the global environment agenda broadens and as climate change brings greater developmental and security challenges.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: A copy of the organization’s commitment to Sustainable Cleaning signed by an organization executive.  This document will be reviewed on an annual basis (at a minimum) and updated as necessary.



INTENT: The intent of this section is to address those policy issues associated with Sustainable Cleaning from the perspective of the organization. The policy shall address:

1.B.1: Sustainable Cleaning management supports a precautionary approach to workplace, environmental and social issues, which strives to anticipate and prevent potential negative impacts on the environment and society.

1.B.2: Utilizing all applicable local, national and international regulations as minimum requirements with a focus on exceeding regulations to focus on the greater good.

1.B.3: Identifying and quantifying environmental and social risks shall be part of the normal process of risk assessment and management, both in domestic and international operations. For organizations with multiple buildings, policies should be specific to the local facility.

1.B.4: Pursuing the best practice in environmental management, including energy and water efficiency, recycling and waste reduction, and indoor environmental quality; and seeking to form business relations with customers, partners, suppliers and subcontractors who follow similarly high environmental standards.

1.B.5: Updating practices on an annual basis (at a minimum) to incorporate relevant developments in sustainability management; and encouraging the cleaning industry to undertake research accordingly.

1.B.6: Recognizing the need to conduct internal program reviews on an annual basis (at a minimum) to measure progress against sustainability goals.

1.B.7: Recognizing the need to innovate and adopt products and processes which will promote the principles of Sustainable Cleaning.

1.B.8: Encouraging continued learning and education on sustainability and new cleaning technologies.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: A copy of the organization’s policy on Sustainable Cleaning that addresses the requirements of this subsection on the management of the cleaning program at the facility, along with a specific list of the applicable local, national and international regulations being addressed.  This document will be reviewed on an annual basis (at a minimum) and updated as necessary.



INTENT: The intent of this section is to address those issues associated with Sustainable Cleaning from the perspective of public awareness and internal communication. The policy shall address:

1.C.1: Developing and publishing a sustainability policy and annually report on the progress made to promote the integration of environmental and social considerations into cleaning operations.

1.C.2: Communicating relevant information with building management, as appropriate, so that they may strengthen their own capacity to reduce environmental and social risk and promote sustainable development.

1.C.3: Fostering openness and dialogue relating to sustainability matters with relevant stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, cleaning personnel, building management, regulators, policy-makers and the public.

1.C.4: Recognizing the importance of other initiatives by the cleaning industry in advancing the aims and objectives of Sustainable Cleaning and seeking to assist such initiatives in an appropriate manner.

1.C.5: Encouraging other organizations to support this Statement and committing to share experiences and knowledge in order to extend best practices.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: A copy of the organization’s policy on Sustainable Cleaning that addresses the requirements of this subsection on public awareness and communications.  This document will be reviewed on an annual basis (at a minimum) and updated as necessary.


INTENT: The intent of this section is to address those issues associated with the environmental impacts, corporate social responsibility and governance of the cleaning organization.


INTENT: The intent of this section is to address those environmental issues associated with the cleaning organization.

2.A.1: Reporting on the organization’s internal management of its environmental impacts such as those relative to its office, warehouse (if applicable), and vehicles.  At a minimum, reporting shall address energy and water consumption of the facilities, and its waste/recycling.  Reporting shall be made by square foot of the facility and revenues.

2.A.2: Reporting on the organization’s transportation issues including the fuel efficiency of owned or leased vehicles, and those associated with office and cleaning personnel to encourage public transportation, ride sharing, carpooling and other methods to minimize transportation impacts. Reporting shall include public transportation contributions, and the average fuel efficiency of the organization’s vehicles by number of employees and revenues.

2.A.3: Reporting from the organization’s supply chain specific to their distributor of cleaning products.  This reporting is specific to the environmental impacts of the distributor’s office, warehouse and delivery vehicles.  At a minimum, reporting shall address energy and water consumption of the facilities, waste/recycling, and fuel consumption/efficiency of the delivery fleet.  Reporting shall be made by pound of delivered product and revenues.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Evidence that the organization’s purchases meet the requirements of this subsection, along with reporting on the organization’s facility and vehicles, those of its distributor product suppliers, and efforts regarding transportation issues specific to cleaning personnel’s ability to commute to and from work assignments. 



INTENT: The intent of this section is to promote and further social equity by integrating strategies that address identified social and economic needs and disparities among cleaning personnel.

2.B.1: Addressing human rights including no child, forced labor or bonded labor; health and safety procedures and training; right of freedom of association; non-discrimination; diversity and equal opportunity; hiring of people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups; discipline, harassment and grievance procedures; fair working hours and compensation; anti-corruption and bribery; and community and society impacts.

2.B.2: Ensuring fair and equitable pay and benefits for work performed such as paying worker wages and benefits that meet or exceed the prevailing wage as determined by applicable local, State or Federal prevailing wage statutes, whichever is higher.

2.B.3: Promoting employable skill development such as life- and professional skills training programs, including such things as, GED test preparation, English as second language (ESL) courses, financial literacy, debt management, first-time home buying, or entrepreneurship training

2.B.4: Promoting personal financial stability such as financial assistance in the form of transportation assistance or commuting programs, scholarships, stipends, or sponsorships for workers to attend life- and professional skills training programs conducted off-site such as pre-apprenticeship training, English as a second language (ESL) courses, GED test preparation, financial literacy, debt management, first-time home buying, or entrepreneurship training

2.B.5: Encouraging community and civic engagement such as providing time to vote.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Evidence that the organization has met the requirements of this subsection on corporate social responsibility by providing a copy of the organization’s hiring practices manual, employee benefits handbook, a percentage breakdown of employee types and how fair and equitable pay and benefits were calculated.



INTENT: The intent of this section is to promote the appropriate governance of a cleaning organization.

2.C.1: Establishing a policy on conducting ethical business practices including protection of human rights, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor, no child labor, no discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, and prevent corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

2.C.2: Chartering a sustainability team with an explicit mandate for Sustainable Cleaning and its management, auditing, reporting and other requirements; along with other issues to be addressed by the sustainability team.

2.C.3: Establishing metrics, improvement goals and reporting requirements specific to Sustainable Cleaning addressing (at a minimum) building occupant and cleaning personnel health, and environmental impacts associated with the cleaning program.

2.C.4: Reporting on the management of the organization including the percentage of gender and racial/ethnic groups in the position of executive management and all other employees, voluntary and involuntary turnover rates, and employee engagement.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Evidence that the organization has met the requirements of this subsection on governance specifically as it applies to the cleaning program.


INTENT: The intent of this section is to address those issues associated with sustainable cleaning from an operational, quality control and management perspective.


INTENT: The intent of this subsection is to have in place tools and technologies to enable management and cleaning personnel to understand its program requirements and costs (as appropriate). Such tools and technologies will include:

3.A.1: Job descriptions and standards of performance in the language or format understandable for every cleaning worker position within the program.

3.A.2: Injury reports and hazard report logs.

3.A.3: Mandatory compliance training records.

3.A.4: Evaluation of worksite safety equipment and documentation of on-site chemicals (SDS) and OSHA inspections

3.A.5: Facilities information in the language or format understandable for every cleaning person regarding areas to be cleaned.

3.A.6: Established and agreed upon schedule of services.

3.A.7: Prepared assessment of scope and size of areas to be cleaned.

3.A.8: Job cards that provide work schedule detail to ensure compliance with specifications.

3.A.9: Productivity standards.

3.A.10: Logs to track inventory ordering/receipt for supplies ordered and received into inventory.

3.A.11: Attendance, absenteeism and backfill records to determine labor costs.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Examples of job descriptions, injury and hazard report logs, training records, schedules of services, job cards, productivity standards, inventory receipts, equipment and supply logs, and attendance records shall be submitted over the course of 12 months (or a minimum of 3 months if the cleaning program is new to the building)



INTENT: It is the intent of this subsection to address the methods and means which promote effective cleaning.  Work shall be performed in a way that protects the health of cleaning personnel and building occupants, and the physical environment. Specific requirements include:

3.B.1: Regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces at which microorganisms can collect and breed, and by which germs and infection can be transferred one person to another. Such surfaces include (but is not limited to) door handles, bathroom faucets/fixtures, telephones, light switches, etc.

3.B.2: Regular cleaning and disinfecting of restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities.

3.B.3: Regular removal of all food waste/trash and restroom trash for overall cleanliness and to reduce pests.

3.B.4: Dedicated cleaning tools and equipment including appropriate color-coding specifically for restroom cleaning tasks only. Not allowing these tools to be used to clean other areas to avoid cross-contamination.

3.B.5: Regularly scheduled detail cleaning of common areas such as conference/meeting rooms, reception areas, classrooms, libraries and workrooms, etc. on at least a once a week basis.

3.B.6: Adherence to prescribed cleaning schedules for specialty areas such as cafeterias, breakrooms, restaurants, concessions areas, labs, first aid and health rooms, lounges, mother’s rooms, medical and patient rooms. 

3.B.7: At least annual deep-cleaning of carpets.

3.B.8: At least annual cleaning and/or refinishing of hard surface floors.

3.B.9: Emphasis placed on maintenance of floors with minimal stripping (more frequent shower scrubbing, burnishing, top coating is allowed).

3.B.10: Floors shall be swept, vacuumed, dust mopped, wet mopped, buffed, top scrubbed and recoated, and/or burnished according to prescribed schedule.

3.B.11: A system that uses floor mopping/rinsing solutions and mop heads to be exchanged on an appropriate frequency to minimize the transfer of soils.

3.B.12: Assurance that building occupants, cleaning personnel and program management have a mutual understanding of the service schedule and results expectations.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Cleaning specifications including tasks and frequencies shall be submitted along with evidence that those services/activities have been performed.



INTENT: It is the intent of this subsections to address quality control measures to ensure that the cleaning program is meeting the needs and expectations of the facility.

3.C.1: Ensure that the building occupants, cleaning personnel and the program management have a mutual understanding of the service schedule and performance expectations.

3.C.2: Have in place a means and method whereby cleaning results will be inspected and evaluated internally on a scheduled basis.

3.C.3: Have in place a means and method whereby unsatisfactory cleaning results can be promptly communicated and corrected.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Documentation of quality control assessments, complaint logs and other issues with corrective actions shall be provided.



INTENT:  The intent of this subsection is to address the productivity of cleaning personnel, along with clear cleaning assignments.

3.D.1: Management has conducted an assessment and understands the size and specific needs of the areas being cleaned.

3.D.2: Contingency plans have been developed and approved by facility management, and communicated to cleaning personnel to address priorities in the event that significant numbers of cleaning personnel are unable to get to work.

3.D.3: Workloads are based on recognized industry standards such as ISSA, APPA, IFMA, BOMA, unions, etc. or time on task studies.

3.D.4: Cleaning personnel assignments are equitable in size and scope.

3.D.5: Cleaning personnel are provided sufficient tools and written information to enable them (and substitute cleaning personnel) to organize, plan and accomplish their work according to established service schedules.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Documentation such as workloading plans and other addressing the requirements of this subsection.



INTENT: It is the intent of this subsection to address procedural training requirements for cleaning personnel, methods and requirements for protecting cleaning personnel health, and ergonomics. 

3.E.1: Training programs shall be both classroom using instructors and/or video technologies and hands-on; and shall be done in a language or using other tools such that it is understandable to the cleaning personnel.

3.E.2: Training programs shall address the training of new and periodic refresher training for cleaning personnel on the science of cleaning including the basics of industrial hygiene, basic procedures (i.e. restroom cleaning, office cleaning, vacuuming, dusting and trash/recyclables removal), quality control, health, safety, green cleaning, sustainability and other requirements as appropriate for the facility being cleaned.

3.E.3: Training programs for cleaning personnel shall address advanced training (i.e. resilient and stone floor care, carpet and upholstery care, food sanitation, and supervisory skills) as appropriate for the facility being cleaned.

3.E.4: Training programs shall address personal health and safety protection for cleaning personnel.

3.E.5: Training programs shall address issues that minimize common workplace ailments like muscle fatigue, repetitive stress disorders and other ergonomic issues.

3.E.5.a: Perform an assessment of cleaning personnel and cleaning activities to identify potential ergonomic issues for workers.

3.E.5.b: Report on ergonomic related injuries.

3.E.5.c: Put in place an exercise or stretching program to reduce the potential for ergonomic injuries for workers.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Documentation addressing the requirements of this subsection.



INTENT: It is the intent of this subsection to address procedural training requirements for cleaning personnel, the methods and requirements for cleaning personnel to help improve buildings operations and reduce negative environmental impacts. 

3.F.1: Training shall be both classroom and hands-on, and shall be done in a language or using other tools such that it is understandable to the cleaning personnel.

3.F.2: Training programs shall address the training of new and periodic refresher training for cleaning personnel on basic sustainable practices and how it applies to them.

3.F.3: Training programs shall address advanced techniques and strategies used to improve sustainability in the facility and reduce resource consumption.  Areas that can be reviewed but are not limited to include:

3.F.3.a: Electricity – Activities can involve:

3.F.3.a.1: Following lighting plan to ensure all appropriate lights are left on or turned off according to plan at the end of shift.

3.F.3.a.2: Checking for space heaters and report their presences to client.

3.F.3.a.3: Reporting all broken light fixtures and/or motion sensors.

3.F.3.a.4: Reporting areas that do not have proper lighting controls, like closets and copier rooms that do not have motion sensors.

3.F.3.a.5: Following plug-load plan to ensure all appropriate equipment is powered down and/or unplugged according to plan at the end of shift.

3.F.3.b: Natural Gas and/or Other Heating Sources – Activities can involve:

3.F.3.b.1: Ensuring thermostats are set to building’s management plan and includes best practices, like different set points for summer and winter months, locking thermostat and/or password protected, etc.

3.F.3.b.2: Reporting any abnormally hot or cold spots in the facility and/or drafts.

3.F.3.b.3: Following plan for optimal facility performance by the closing/opening windows and/or closing/opening doors to ensure proper air circulation. Plan may change based on season.

3.F.3.c: Water – Activities can involve:

3.F.3.c.1: Checking for running toilets, sinks and showers, and have a protocol for reporting and promptly resolving issues.

3.F.3.d Waste – Activities can involve:

3.F.3.d.1: Ensure that all forms of waste bins are available at each location to ensure that building occupants can appropriately and conveniently dispose of materials.

3.F.3.d.2: Ensuring waste removal service is “right-sized” for the facility (i.e. the dumpsters are full upon pick up).  Report continuously under filled dumpsters and consider an “on call” service, which cleaning staff may or may not manage.

3.F.3.d.3: Performing quick checks of waste materials in bin to:

3.F.3.d.3.i: Ensure inappropriate materials are not being disposed of in waste bins, which can include batteries, paints, solvents, e-waste, furniture, etc., with a plan to report all suspicious materials to facility management.

3.F.e.d.3.ii: Ensure recyclable materials are not being improperly disposed (i.e. placed in trash) and have procedure to address these issues (i.e. employee/tenant training, improved signage, engagement displays).

3.F.3.d.4: Ensuring plastic can liners are the right size and thickness for the bin and weight of the materials being collected, or if even necessary at all.

3.F.3.e: Recycling– Activities can involve:

3.F.3.e.1: Understanding recycling program including all materials that are recyclable and/or compostable and which are not according to the local municipal waste hauler.

3.F.3.e.2: Performing quick checks of materials in recycling bin and throwing out bins of recycling that appear contaminated.

3.F.3.e.3: Ensuring best practices for recycling procedures are in place like not lining recycling bins with plastic liners, clear signage is posted, regular trainings and providing feedback to tenants and/or employees on recycling program.

3.F.3.e.4:         Working with building management to retain new waste haulers for abnormal waste like batteries, hazardous waste, electronic waste and compost if not available through the municipal waste hauler.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Documentation including bills from the local waste hauler addressing the requirements of this subsection.



INTENT: It is the intent of this subsection is to address issues associated with the procurement of products used during the cleaning operation. 

3.G.1: Purchasing principles shall be based on the principles of Green procurement for the following categories:

3.G.1.a: Consumable cleaning products including cleaning and coating chemicals, disinfectants and sanitizers, sanitary paper, plastic can liners, floor pads and other disposable materials. 

3.G.1.a.i: Seventy-five percent (75%) of the purchases of these cleaning product purchases by cost will meet or exceed the requirements of independent third-party certifiers including, but not limited to Green Seal, Safer Choice, UL/ECOLOGO and Carpet & Rug Institute for the appropriate product category.

3.G.1.b: Durable cleaning products including powered equipment such as vacuum cleaners and floor machines, buckets, carts, waste and recycling bins, microfiber mops and cloths, and other commonly used durable cleaning tools and accessories. 

3.G.1.b.i: Have in place a plan and maintenance log for on-going repair and maintenance of these items.

 3.G.1.b.ii: At the end of life of these durable products, seventy-five percent (75%) of the purchases by cost shall meet or exceed the requirements of independent third-party certifiers including, but not limited to Green Seal, Safer Choice, UL/ECOLOGO and Carpet & Rug Institute for the appropriate product category.

PROOF OF CONFORMANCE: Documentation addressing the requirements of this subsection.

terms, definitions and organizations

The terms and definitions in this standard are provided to ensure clarity of meaning of the statements within this Sustainable Cleaning Standard.  Every effort has been made to preclude the use of slogans or jargon associated with any particular product or process. Likewise, brand names have not been used except in cases where the name is synonymous with and most appropriate for the description of a tool or activity. Names like ‘Band Aid’ or ‘Team Cleaning’ are examples of such terms.  While some of these terms do not appear in this document they have been included as they are closely related to the topic and could be expected to be used when evaluating a Sustainable Cleaning Program.

Accreditation: Third party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying a formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.

ANSI Accreditation: The approval by the ANSI Executive Standards Council of the written procedures submitted by a standards developer relative to the development and documentation of evidence of consensus in connection with standards that are expected to be approved as American National Standards.  Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures submitted by the standards developer satisfy the essential requirements contained herein.

Antimicrobial: A substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites

APPA (Formerly the Association of Physical Plant Administrators): Primarily focused on facility operations at the college and university level. APPA offers a custodial effectiveness assessment that is used by the USGBC in its LEED:O&M Rating System.

Attribute: The characteristics or properties of entities (such as products) that determine the type and extent of their short and longer term impacts on the environment or human health. Environmental attributes include, for example, biodegradability, recyclability, VOC emissions, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air emissions, hazardous waste, carcinogenicity, etc.

Audit:  Systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the criteria are fulfilled. (Audits may be field and/or desk audits and it should be clarified as to which).

Auditor: Person with the competence to conduct an auditCompetence:  demonstrated personal attributes and demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills.

Back Pack Vacuums: A vacuum that is designed to be carried on the hips of the cleaning worker during use.

Benefit: An expected environmental or social improvement (or positive impact) that has been made as a result of procurement of an environmentally preferable product or service.

Biobased-Products: Commercial or industrial products whose main ingredients are renewable plant or animal materials.

Biodegradable: A biodegradable product has the ability to break down by biological means into raw materials of nature and disappear into the environment.  

BOMA: The Building Owners and Managers Association International 

Carbon Disclosure Project: Focuses on investors, companies and cities on taking urgent action to build a truly sustainable economy by measuring and understanding their environmental impact.

Carcinogen(ic): A material that is known to cause cancer.

Certification: Procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements.

Certifier: An individual or organization who assesses compliance of an entity against an applicable standard or set of criteria, and issues a certificate if deemed successful.

Certified Cleaning Program: A cleaning program that has been awarded a certificate attesting to their demonstrated compliance with a third-party certification.   

Certified Cleaning Worker: A cleaning worker that has been trained in the concepts associated with the performance of sustainable cleaning as set forth in the Washington State Sustainable Cleaning Standards. 

Chain of Custody: The ability to guarantee the identity and integrity of the sample (or data) or product from collection/creation through reporting or certification

Chemical storage: The manner and place in which cleaning products, equipment and supplies are stored.

Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP): A CEO-led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy — how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, investors, and customers —determines company success.

Classroom: An officially designated training space.

Cleaning Chemical: A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is produced by or used in a chemical process and which is used in the process of cleaning... 

Cleaning Management:  An entity that oversees or directly provides cleaning services, whether by in-house or contracted workers.

Cleaning Program: An entity that exists to perform or oversee a full range of cleaning services.

Cleaning Worker/Personnel:  The person who performs hands-on cleaning tasks.

Compliance Audit: An independent examination of a work product to assess compliance with specifications, standards, contractual agreements, or other criteria.

Concentrate/Concentrated: A term generally applied to chemicals that are provided in a manner that requires the addition of water to bring them to a prescribed dilution strength and consistency; a chemical that has not been diluted with water to bring it to the strength appropriate for its intended use and results.

Conformity Assessment: Demonstration, or activities involved in demonstrating, that specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person or body are fulfilled.

Consensus: General agreement, characterized by the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests and by a process seeking to take into account the views of all parties concerned and to reconcile any conflicting arguments. NOTE - Consensus need not imply unanimity. 

Control Cabinet: A storage cabinet that is located in a supervisor’s office or other secure area and is used to store products that require distribution control.

Controlled Product:  A term applied to chemicals that are not used on a daily basis in the accomplishment of routine custodial work; Chemicals that require particular and/or special instruction, personal protective equipment or supervisory oversight in their use.

Corporate Social Responsibility: A self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.

Corrective Action Reports: Reports that are issued during certification evaluations or audits that require entities applying for an ecolabel to make specific changes in order to meet criteria.

Criteria: The specific parameters that have to be met in order for an entity to attain a standard and/or be awarded the use of an ecolabel.

Daily Cleaners: Cleaning products used in routine daily cleaning tasks

Daily Duties: Those cleaning duties prescribed to be done on an every day, 5 day a week basis or on every day the facilities are used.  Means regularly scheduled cleaning of areas that have been used (usually once in a 24 hour period) and which require attention to restore order, prevent odors, discourage insect or pest infestation, provide germicidal or bacterial control, etc. 

Daily Refresh Cleaning: Those things done each day to establish order to an area without the performing of detail cleaning.  May include trash removal; debris removal; straightening chairs, tables, etc;

Declaration: An attestation by a responsible authority within the manufacturer’s organization that the product meets the requirements of the standard as declared.

Deep Cleaning: In depth cleaning

Detail Cleaning: In depth cleaning

Dilution:  The process of making weaker or less concentrated.

Disinfecting:  To sterilize surfaces; to make germ free. 

Disinfectants:  Sometimes called antibacterial cleaners, antiseptics, or sanitizers, these are controlled products that are designed to destroy germs and bacteria when applied properly. 

Disinfecting:  The cleaning process whereby the worker uses a ‘controlled product’ to clean thoroughly and remove germs from surfaces.

Ecolabel: A visual communication tool indicating environmentally preferable products, services or companies that are based on standards or criteria. Note:  Ecolabels may be referred to as tiered, pass-fail, Type I, II, III, multi-attribute, single attribute, etc..

Ecolabelling Program: A scheme defining requirements to obtain a specific Ecolabel. The term ‘Ecolabelling Program’ can also describe the organization that creates an ecolabel, and is responsible for its ongoing management and use.

Entity: A product, service, company, or organization that seeks, or has been, awarded an ecolabel. Entities can be buildings, companies, facilities, farms, fisheries, forests / land holdings, individuals, non-profit, organizations, products, processes, services, or supply chains.

Environmental or Green Claim: Any statement, assertion or visual display about the environmental aspects of an entity. 

Environmental Aspect: Element of an organization's activities or products or services that can interact with the environment.

Environmental Impact: Any change to the environment whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an entity’s environmental attributes.

Environmental Product Declaration©: Quantified environmental data for a product with pre-set categories of parameters (raw material, energy use, etc) based on the ISO 14040 series.  Also includes additional product and company information.

Environmentally Preferred Products:  Products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. This comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal. Also known as Green products.

Ergonomics: The science concerned with designing safe and comfortable machines, tools, and work systems to reduce operator fatigue, discomfort and injury.

First, Second and Third Parties: The first party is generally the person or organization that provides the object, such as the supplier. The second party is usually a person or organization that has a user interest in the product, such as the customer. The third party is a person or body that is recognized as being independent of the person or organization that provides the object, as well as the user or customer of the object.

First Party Attestation: When the producer of an entity claims to meet a criterion or standard without the verification or endorsement of another party.

Floor Finishes: – Sealers, top coats, acrylics products that do not contain wax that are applied to floors to preserve and/or protect the flooring or to achieve aesthetic purposes.

Governance: The processes that help a company implement sustainability strategy across the business, manage goal-setting and reporting processes, strengthen relations with external stakeholders, and ensure overall accountability

Green: A term synonymous with environmentally preferable and which refers to products or processes that present a reduced negative impact on human health and/or the environmental.

Green Cleaning: A method of cleaning that incorporates products and processes that help present a reduced negative impact on the cleaning worker, the building, the building occupant and the environment.  

Green Seal: A non-profit organization specializing in environmentally preferable products and services which offers numerous standards for cleaning products. One of several third-party product testing entities.

Hands On: Refers to in-person or on-site training or instruction.

Harmonization: A process whereby national or regional standards and requirements are aligned, including product and manufacturing standards and conformance assessment requirements. Harmonization does not necessarily mean that standards need to be identical in each jurisdiction, but rather that they are consistent or compatible so there is no barrier to trade.

Harmonized Standards: Standards on the same subject approved by different standardizing bodies that establish interchangeability of products, processes and services, or mutual understanding of test results or information provided according to these standards.

Hot Spot: Those impacts that have the most significance.

IFMA: International Facility Management Association

ISSA: International Sanitary Supply Association, Inc. – The leading trade association for the professional cleaning industry providing standards, certification programs, training, trade shows and other related activities.

Impact/Impacts: The effect or output of an activity, product or substance on the environment or human health, whether adverse or beneficial.

Janitor Closet: A closet designated for the storing and preparation of cleaning products and equipment.

Job Cards: Cards containing detailed information about custodial work assignments.

LEED. An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating and certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.  

LEED-O&M – The rating system for the operations and maintenance of existing buildings.

LEED-NCThe rating system for new construction and major renovations is a green building rating system that was designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects, with a focus on office buildings.

Life-Cycle. Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation of natural resources to the final disposal.

Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA): Compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs, and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle

Life-Cycle Cost: The amortized annual cost of a product, including capital costs, installation costs, operating costs, maintenance costs and disposal costs discounted over the lifetime of the product However, this definition does not include external costs (i.e., those not borne directly by the entity that owns and operates a product/service, such as environmental costs to society at large).

Life-Cycle Thinking (LCT): LCT is a concept that integrates existing consumption and production strategies, preventing a piece-meal approach. LCT and other approaches can be used to improve the way we think about problem solving and use available information. Life cycle approaches help avoid shifting problems from one life cycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium (air, water, soil) to another.

Microfiber Cloths: Soft and absorbent cleaning cloths made of polyester and other synthetic materials.

Microfiber Mops: Mop heads made of soft and absorbent materials made of polyester and other synthetic materials.

Multi-Attribute: A type of ecolabel or standard that captures a number of environmental attributes or life-cycle attributes or impacts of a product. 

Mutual Recognition: Where ecolabel programs or standard-setting organizations formally recognize the criteria and requirements of each-others’ standards or sets of criteria If such an agreement exists, entities that have been awarded the label in one program may therefore be able to register in another without undertaking the full certification evaluation procedures again

Norm: A formal rule or standard laid-down by an authority (government, international standards organizations) that guides or mandates behavior towards conformity.

Performance Standard: Those standards that require specific and measurable outcomes or results to be achieved by the entity.

Personal Protective Equipment: refers to protective clothing, gloves, goggles, masks, respirators, or other gear designed to protect the cleaning worker from injury by chemicals or other hazards for job-related occupational safety and health purposes.

Post-consumer material: Materials generated by a business or a consumer that have served their intended use and which have been recovered or diverted from the waste stream to be recycled.

Prescribed Cleaning: (1) A predetermined schedule of cleaning tasks beyond the basic schedule that is designed to achieve a clean condition; (2) A customized schedule of cleaning tasks; (3) May involve more frequent cleaning of prestigious or other areas; (4) Often involves the cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of areas necessary to maintain particular areas especially in the prevention of the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses. 

Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) - The PRI supports an international network of investor signatories in incorporating ESG factors into their investment and ownership decisions.

Product: The result of an act or process that transforms inputs into outputs, and which satisfies a market’s want or need. NOTE:  This definition may include services.

Product Category Rules: Product category rules (PCR) define the criteria for identification of a specific product category and sets out the parameters to prepare a Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). A PCR aims to identify and define rules for specific product categories in order to: identify the functional and performance characteristics of the product; define the criteria to be used in the LCA study of products belonging to the category; specify the information that must be reported in the Environmental Product Declaration.

Product Stewardship: Product stewardship is a principle that directs all participants involved in the life cycle of a product to take shared responsibility for the impacts to human health and the natural environment that result from the production, use and end-of-life management of the product.

Project Work: Those cleaning duties prescribed to be done on an occasional but scheduled basis.

RE100 - A collaborative global initiative that seeks to massively increase the demand for and delivery of renewable energy, particularly within the commercial and industrial sectors, in effort to accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and aid the transition to a low carbon economy.

Registration: Third party attestation related to systems that convey assurance that specified requirements have been demonstrated. Such systems include those established for the management of product, process or service quality and environmental performance. In the context of ecolabels, registration refers to the initial step of registering an entity in order to become certified to that label’s standard.

Regular, after use:  Sometimes referred to as ‘daily’ tasks in service specifications.  Means regularly scheduled cleaning of areas that have been used (usually once in a 24 hour period) and which require attention to restore order, prevent odors, discourage insect or pest infestation, provide germicidal or bacterial control, etc. 

Safer Choicea voluntary program at the US Environmental Protection Agency that helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that perform and are safer for human health and the environment.

Sanitizers:  High level disinfectants that kill over 99.9% of a target microorganism in applicable situations.

Science Based Targets Initiative - Promotes science-based target setting as a powerful method of boosting companies’ competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. Science-based targets provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Second Party Certified or Verified: When an entity is assessed against a standard by an organization that has an interest in (or conflict of interest with) but is not the producer of the entity. 

Short Staffing: A situation when one or more of a cleaning staff are absent; when there are not sufficient staff available to perform the scheduled cleaning duties.

Single-Attribute: Type of environmental claim that is based solely on a single characteristic or property of a product’s performance

Solution Centers: A mechanism used in the dispensing, mixing and dilution of concentrated chemicals with water 

Specifications: Tolerances, limiting values and other defining characteristics for materials, products, services, processes, systems or persons, contained within the provisions of a standard. Also called job specs; A detailed account of what, when, where and how of cleaning tasks.

Standard: A standard is a set of environmental criteria for a product, service or company.

Standard-Setting Organization (SDO): The organization responsible for creating and maintaining the set of criteria that makes up a standard; and which stipulates the requirements or conditions of the ecolabel’s use.

Strategic Investor Initiative of the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), is a CEO-led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy — how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, investors, and customers —determines company success.

Substantiation: Verification of something by supplying evidence to prove the truth of a claim (a FTC rule requires an advertiser to prove the truth of advertising claims made about a product or service)

Supply Chain Sustainability: The management of environmental, social and economic impacts, and the encouragement of good governance practices, throughout the lifecycles of goods and services.

Sustainability: As related to cleaning, a term that is used to identify a cleaning process that can be consistently implemented, duplicated, proven effective, and measured.  A term that includes results which contribute to human and environmental health and the longevity of the natural and the built environment.  

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board: SASB’s mission is to help businesses around the world identify, manage and report on the sustainability topics that matter most to their investors.

Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council:  A a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and recognize purchasing leadership that accelerates the transition to a prosperous and sustainable future.

Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)The TCFD was formed in 2015 by G20 Finance Ministers, the Financial Stability Board, and Central Bank Governors, and includes 32 international members from various sectors. TCFD seeks to provide companies with consistent, voluntary climate-related financial risk disclosures related that can be used to inform financial stakeholders for organizations across all industry sectors.

Technical Harmonization: Process of harmonizing technical practices of any kind, whether at the national, regional or international level. This process deals with technical issues, is facilitated by standards and is often used in support of policy objectives.

Third Party Certified or Verified: When an entity is assessed against a standard by an independent (third party) organization that is different to the entity being certified (first party) and has no conflict-of-interest with the latter.

Third-Party Tester:  A separate individual or organization other than the primary developer, producer, manufacturer, distributor, retailer or end user involved with a cleaning product or chemical who tests the product to determine its compliance with sustainable standards. A third-party tester can also be an individual or organization that has been authorized to evaluate a cleaning program for compliance with the Sustainable Cleaning Standard

Toxins: A poisonous substance, especially a protein, that is produced by living cells or organisms and is capable of causing disease when introduced into the body tissues but is often also capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies or antitoxins.

Trade-Off:  Reducing impacts in one area may result in an increase in impacts in other areas.

Transparency: Open, comprehensive and understandable presentation of information.

Type I Environmental Labelling Program: Voluntary, multiple-criteria-based third-party program that awards a license which authorizes the use of environmental labels on products indicating overall environmental preferability of a product within a particular product category based on life cycle considerations.

Type II Self-Declared Environmental Claim: Environmental claim that is made, without independent third-party certification, by manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers or anyone else likely to benefit from such a claim.

Type III Environmental Declaration: Quantified environmental life cycle product information, provided by a supplier, based on independent verification, (e.g. third party), (critically reviewed) systematic data, presented as a set of categories of parameter (for a sector group)

UL/ECOLOGO: A third-party certifier of products, services and packaging for reduced environmental impact. ECOLOGO Certifications are voluntary, multi-attribute, life cycle-based environmental certifications that indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing or both, to prove its compliance with stringent, third-party, environmental performance standards.

UN Environment Programme: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UN Global Compact: Encourages organizations to align by the strategies and operations within the Ten Principles. The UN Global Compact provides a principle-based framework, best practices, resources and networking events that have revolutionized how companies do business responsibly and keep commitments to society.

UN Global Compact 10 Principals:   The 10 Principals address human rights, labor, environment are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

US Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC is a membership organization comprised of owners, manufacturers, service providers, and architects that has become the leading proponent of green building in the U.S. It designed the LEED rating criteria and continues to oversee the certification a healthier environment for students and

Upright Vacuum cleaner: A vacuum cleaner that rests on the floor, is maneuvered by a handle, uses a beater bar and suction to pick-up dirt which is deposited into an attached cloth or paper bag.   May or may not be self-propelled.

Vacuum Cleaner:  An electrical appliance that cleans surfaces such as carpets and upholstery by sucking dirt and other material into a bag or cylinder

Verification: The process by which an entity is evaluated or assessed against a standard or set of criteria to ensure conformity or ongoing compliance.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds that can vaporize and enter the atmosphere.

Work Assignments: The area, tasks, duties assigned to a cleaning worker 

Here are brief descriptions and links for major certifying agencies that provide standards:

   American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) [link]

The ASTM has published the Standard Guide for Stewardship for the Cleaning of Commercial and Institutional Buildings (publication E1971- 05), which outlines the stewardship of cleaning and housekeeping operations for institutional and commercial buildings. For more information about this publication, visit its Web site and enter E1971-05 in the search box at the top of the page. Contact it at 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Phone: 610-832-9500.

California VOC Standards []

In an effort to minimize air pollution, California set limits on the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for numerous consumer products. The California standards are an excellent starting point to use when evaluating products not covered by the independent standard-setting organizations listed elsewhere in this appendix. Contact California Air Resources Board, 1001 I Street, P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento, CA 95812. Phone: 800-242-4450.

 Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)  (

CRI represents the carpet and rug industry. The institute’s members are manufacturers representing the bulk of all carpet produced in the United States. CRI introduced its Green Label Testing Program for vacuum cleaners in 2000 and more recently introduced a program for carpet extractors. Its mailing address is P.O. Box 2048, Dalton, Georgia.  Phone: 706-278-3176.

 The Chlorine Free Products Association (

This organization sets standards to promote sustainable manufacturing practices and encourage technologies free of chlorine chemistry. It offers standards for janitorial paper products. It’s independent and not for profit. Contact it at Chlorine Free Products Association,19 North Main St., Algonquin, IL 60102. Phone: 847-658-6104.

 EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines,

The EPA establishes recycled content requirements for paper and plastic products under its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. These guidelines are based on producers’ information rather than third-party certification. A database of manufacturers and suppliers of CPG-rated products can be found at along with ideas for saving paper and promoting recycling. Contact it at US EPA, Office of Solid Waste (5305P), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460.

EPA Safer Choice and Design for the Environment Program(

Contact it at Design for the Environment (DfE), Office of Pollution Prevention & Toxics, US EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Mail Code 7406-M, Washington, DC, 20460.

UL/EcoLogo ECOLOGO® Certified products, services and packaging are certified for reduced environmental impact. ECOLOGO Certifications are voluntary, multiattribute, life cycle-based environmental certifications that indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing or both, to prove its compliance with stringent, third-party, environmental performance standards.  These standards set metrics for a wide variety of criteria in some or all of the following categories:  materials, energy, manufacturing and operations, health and environment, product performance and use, and product stewardship and innovation.  Contact:

 Green Seal []

Green Seal is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase, and use of environmentally responsible products. They certify hundreds of products using credible, science-based, and transparent standards.Contact: 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 827, Washington, DC 20036. Phone: 202-872-6400.

 ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard (

ISSA is the leading trade association representing the commercial and institutional cleaning industry. Its Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) is a management framework designed to assist building service contractors and inhouse service providers develop quality, customer-centered organizations, and based on those universally accepted principles that have proven to be the hallmarks of well-managed, successful cleaning operations. Contact: 7373 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood, IL. Phone: 800-225-4772.

 United States Green Building Council (USGBC) (

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) rating system  maximizes building operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. It is a recognized, performance based benchmark for building owners and operators to measure operations, improvements, and maintenance on a consistent scale. LEED-EB is designed for delivering economically profitable, environmentally responsible, healthy, productive places to live and work and provides a roadmap to building owners and managers on green cleaning. Contact:  U.S. Green Building Council, 1800 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC, 20036. Phone: 202-828-7422.

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