Elaina's Sustainability Fund

USGBC develops COVID-focused LEED credit

New pilot credit provides green cleaning guidance in line with EPA and CDC recommendations
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced a new pilot credit in the LEED green building rating system intended to support operators as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space provides direction to effectively clean and disinfect buildings using green cleaning best practices in line with COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Essentially USGBC is providing a ‘roadmap’ to guide building owners and managers in ways to meet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleaning and hygiene requirements to address the pandemic, while still using green cleaning products,” said Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, which helped develop the credit.

Facilities can earn the credit by creating a policy and implementing healthy indoor environment and worker safety practices. A team must also be in place to implement the program.

Owners and operators must carry out the following actions to receive the credit:

  • Describe the approach, including a timeline outlining when new cleaning practices were put in place for COVID-19, along with a copy of the green cleaning policy or program.
  • Prepare a list of cleaning products and materials used or purchased to clean the facility, noting which are and are not compliant with green cleaning criteria.
  • Utilize cleaning equipment that has ergonomic design features to reduce worker injuries due to vibration, noise, and user fatigue.
  • Identify “high-touch points” along with frequencies for cleaning and disinfecting them.
  • Give a description of the cleaning staff training programs developed specifically to address COVID-19.
  • Include training details for the proper application of disinfectants and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Implement quantitative testing and verification of the cleanliness of surfaces.
  • Educate occupants to ensure they understand the steps taken to disinfect and clean the facility and protect human health.

“One benefit of this program is to show that the professional cleaning industry can stop the spread of COVID-19 without resorting to conventional cleaning products that can harm the environment,” Ashkin explained in a statement. “Fighting this pandemic, protecting human health, and protecting the environment are all still possible.”

“We don’t have to choose between public health and a healthy economy,” added Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the USGBC. “The future will require both to thrive. Our priority now is to build people’s trust that their spaces are healthy and have a positive impact not only on them but the economy at large.”

For more information on LEED and how green building practices can support COVID-19 recovery efforts, visit the USGBC’s website.

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