To meet growing demand for corporate sustainability, businesses are increasingly seeking ways to make their operations more sustainable and demonstrate their commitments to people and the planet. Green Seal® helps businesses achieve their goals with leadership standards that aim to reduce environmental, health and social impacts of products, services and companies.

The Green Seal GS-42 Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services establishes criteria for cleaning service providers of commercial, public and institutional buildings, whether in-house or external. The standard includes requirements for products, procedures and training to create an effective green cleaning program. Cleaning service contractors and in-house custodial staff can pursue GS-42 for third-party validation of their sustainability efforts and to set their organizations apart from the competition.

Why Pursue GS-42 Certification?

One key reason to pursue GS-42 is to elevate your company’s image in the eyes of customers and prospects. The Green Seal credential can open new doors for building service contractors to do business with clients who want to pursue LEED certification. To achieve LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings need to use green-certified products and services. GS-42 certified cleaning providers have reported gaining access to new clients seeking LEED that could have been unattainable without the credential.

Additional benefits of green cleaning include improved results and employee retention. With the extensive documentation and standardized procedures required to achieve GS-42, cleaning services can ensure all staff are trained to effectively clean and disinfect facilities while maintaining a healthy environment. Employees and potential recruits feel valued and protected with a Green Seal certified employer, helping you retain talent in an industry with one of the highest turnover rates.

Five Steps to Prepare for Certification

Achieving the GS-42 green cleaning certification requires detailed planning and documentation of processes and products. To begin your journey, consider these key practices for achieving the certification: * Identify vulnerable populations. Green Seal puts a premium on protecting the health and safety of vulnerable populations. Cleaning staff need to communicate with facility managers to identify any building occupants that are more vulnerable to chemicals or airborne particles from cleaning and determine procedures accordingly. For example, a long-term care facility would need to identify when elderly individuals are in certain rooms and schedule cleaning when these rooms are empty. Also, check that your ventilation will dissipate cleaning products from the air before the vulnerable populations return to the space.

  • Select environmentally-preferred products. Certification requires cleaning services disinfect only with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered chemicals. Additionally, staff must use reusable cleaning cloths or microfiber instead of paper. Any products or tools with third-party validation of environmental responsibility will help cleaning services achieve GS-42. Finally, consider purchasing products and tools in quantities that minimize packaging waste.
  • Maintain floors appropriately. Proper floor maintenance is another key to achieving the credential. Green Seal requires that all mops have a reusable head and rewards sustainably manufactured floor cleaning tools. Buildings also need to schedule daily cleaning of floors in high traffic areas, including entryways, hallways and other congested spaces. However, only perform any floor stripping and refinishing as needed and when the minimum number of people are present in the building to avoid unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Clean restrooms thoroughly. Effective restroom cleaning is crucial to maintaining healthy indoor environments. For best results, train staff to clean from high surfaces to low surfaces, from back of the room toward the doorway and beginning with dry cleaning tasks and ending with wet cleaning tasks. Additionally, ensure staff regularly remove any standing moisture from floors and bathroom surfaces.
  • Communicate recycling procedures. To achieve GS-42, building service staff must communicate with management or clients to set standardized procedures for waste collection, disposal and recycling. Recycling areas need to be made accessible and visible to all building occupants and should be kept clean. Be sure to also set protocols for collecting, rinsing and separating recyclables.

Cleaning for Human and Environmental Health

For BSCs interested in becoming a green-certified cleaning company, or facilities looking to pursue LEED green building certification, these simple steps can help you on your way to achieving the credential. For more information on starting a green cleaning program with sustainable tools, visit or contact us at (888) 694-2226 today.