Top 10 States for LEED [Infographic]

The results are in, and Colorado has been ranked #2 for the Top 10 States for LEED in 2014! Last year in the U.S., there were over 1,600 certified Green Building projects (4,500 worldwide), which is something to be extremely proud of.

Interested in going greener in 2015? We can help. Give us a call at 303.443.3366 or visit our website to learn more about how cleaning green can transform your building, office space, and the success of your business.

Not all green cleaning companies are equal

Thinking of switching to a greener janitorial service? Going green is a great idea! But make sure to do the research and ask the right questions when choosing a new service— not all green cleaning companies are equal, and finding the right one for your business or facility can require a little detective work. Below are some great tips on what to look for when it comes to finding and hiring a more eco-friendly cleaning company. For more information on green cleaning and building services, please feel free to get in touch with us at GBS Commercial Cleaning! We’d be happy provide you with an estimate and customized janitorial plan that meets your facility’s needs. Give us a call today at 303-443-3366 



How to Evaluate a Green Cleaning Company 


Many companies, which outsource their janitorial service, are not taking advantage of the benefits of green cleaning. Unlike many capital and resource intensive green initiatives, such as installing solar panels, green cleaning can be implemented quickly and easily. In addition, green cleaning can have a net positive impact on your bottom line by making employees more productive and healthy while reducing water and energy usage.

What should you know when evaluating a green cleaning company?

Not all green janitorial companies are created equal. You want to make sure the company you choose uses the tools and techniques necessary to effectively clean your facility. You also want to avoid firms that greenwash (pun intended) by painting a false picture of being environmentally friendly.

How? Discuss the following 10 questions with your prospective or existing janitorial service provider:

  1. Green cleaning is about cleaning for health. Ask your provider to define “clean.” If appearances are the only element discussed, this is your first warning sign.
  2. Green cleaning is not just about using green cleaning chemicals or substances. Cleaning substances represent only a small percentage (5 percent on average) of the total effort required to clean your building. Ask your provider what tools its teams use to get the job done. They should be using microfiber mops, dual chamber buckets and microfiber cleaning cloths, just to name a few.
  3. Diseases can be spread by cross-contamination. This often happens when mops and cleaning cloths are used in restrooms and then re-used in other parts of your building. Ask how your service provider to describe what its teams do to avoid cross-contamination.
  4. Janitors are historically the fifth most injured workforce in the United States and your company could be liable for heavy fines if a janitor is injured while cleaning your building. Ask your cleaning firm what it specifically does to comply with OSHA regulations so your risk will be minimized, provided you maintain a safe environment for workers. OSHA requires a written Hazard Communication Plan, an inventory of all chemicals, a log of training and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which detail the risks, precautions, and first aid associated with a chemical or substance. Furthermore, each janitor must be able to articulate his or her company’s safety program, and the physical documents about emergency procedures must be accessible to the janitor within 10 minutes in the event of an accident.
  5. Many janitorial workers are prone to excessive use of water and electricity. Ask what sustainability practices are used to reduce the use of these natural resources, without compromising the cleanliness of the places the firm serves.
  6. Janitors who work in teams and specialize on focused roles are able to achieve a higher level of cleanliness with less time and effort. Find out if your provider uses area, zone or team cleaning methods.
  7. Consistency in tools and processes translates to a consistently clean building. Ask your provider if the same types of chemicals or substances, tools, equipment and processes are used for all clients. Inconsistencies can be a sign of challenges in quality control on a regular basis, and can pose greater problems when staffing shortages occur.
  8. Tools and equipment quickly lose their effectiveness as they are used during the shift. Ask how often vacuum filters are emptied, how often mopping solution is replaced and if these filter and solution changes are tracked and logged.
  9. Each chemical, solution or substance used dramatically increases the chance of improper mixing and improper application. This can result in injury to the janitor or damage to your building materials. Ask how many substances each janitor uses on a daily basis.
  10. Properly fitted backpack vacuums are ergonomically correct, remove more dust from the environment and enable the janitor work faster than traditional push vacuums. This equipment protects the cleaning worker and collects dust instead of redistributing in your environment. Ask your provider what type of vacuum the company uses.

If your current or prospective janitorial service provider is able to answer all of these questions clearly and confidently — and you feel comfortable with their answers — then you will likely reap the benefits of having a healthy indoor environment.


Green Cleaning: Fad or Necessity? [Infographic]

Green cleaning is one hundred percent necessary! Go green!





5 Green Building New Years’ Resolutions

Happy 2015! It’s the perfect time to start making new plans and goals for the rest of the year, whether they are personal or professional.  At GBS, we aim to inspire, promote, and enable individuals, communities, companies, and industries at large to go green and reduce their environmental impact as much as possible. In the spirit of New Years’ Resolutions, we’ve come up with a few tips for how you, your business, and your building can make 2015 a better, greener year!

1) Smaller means greener. If you are planning to relocate your office or business this year, downsize. Or, if you are starting from the ground up, choose efficiency over luxury and construct a smaller and smarter building. After all, a smaller building is automatically a greener building; less square footage means lower energy costs and lower operating costs, and the reduced need for and consumption of resources means a reduced carbon footprint!

2) Lighten up. Switching out conventional lightbulbs for eco-friendly LED ones is an investment that literally pays for itself. If you have not done this already, do not wait another day! LED lightbulbs require about 1/6 of the energy that incandescent bulbs do, cutting down your building’s energy costs and output considerably (learn more about going green with LEDs here). If you’re planning on remodeling your building or office space, also consider taking advantage of your building’s own natural light and installing windows— better, more efficient windows mean better light, better insulation, and much lower energy costs.

3) Jump on inexpensive opportunities to go green. For very little money upfront, your business and building can make huge strides towards becoming green certified! Aside from switching to LED bulbs (which is one of the most energy and money-saving decisions your building and business can make), there are numerous of other cheap, green solutions that you can easily implement. Create a building-wide compost and recycling program, go paperless whenever and wherever possible, and start a carpooling program and/or bike-to-work club. Going green does not mean spending a lot of money.

4) Get some fresh air. Reduce the number of harmful VOCs in your building’s air and create a healthier workplace by bringing in office plants. Plants act as natural air-filters, and not only improve the office atmosphere but also promote employee health, attendance, and overall work productivity. Clean air is green air and is better air for all!

5) Hire a green cleaning team. One of the best ways for your building to go green is to clean green. In fact, the use of ordinary commercial cleaning products and techniques in your office and building is the opposite of “going green”— not to mention, these products and techniques are extremely toxic, environmentally dangerous, and very wasteful. Ultimately, how an office and building are cleaned is an enormous gauge of environmental responsibility, efficiency, and safety. To learn more about green cleaning, green buildings, and our mission here at GBS, click here!


Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

How To Have a Green Halloween

DIY pumpkin vase idea from Pinterest

Halloween is just days away… how are you celebrating at home and around the office? Are you dressing up? Decorating? Diving into a big pile of candy?

With all the mass-produced costumes (which almost always contain scary toxins and plastics, like PVC), endless candy wrappers, and an office cubicle or backyard full of store-bought decorations, this annual holiday can quickly turn into an extra-spooky one from an environmental standpoint… especially when it comes to the amount of waste that is created and often not recycled or reused for next year’s celebration.

To make this year’s and all future Halloweens a little greener, here are a few sustainable “tricks” (or are they “treats?”) to try!

1. Make your own costumes and know what’s in your face paint! Store-bought costumes almost always contain non-recycled materials and/or toxic petrochemicals and plastic fibers that are scarier than Halloween itself! Watch out for PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is a carcinogenic soft plastic material, and choose costumes that are made from safer, natural materials. Or, better yet, make your own costumes! You can use recycled materials to craft your own costume, or you can head to Goodwill or a thrift shop and get inspired to construct a get-up that’s both economical and creative! Also pay attention to what’s in your make-up and face paint, too; toxic leads are found in a lot of costume make-up, and even fake blood can contain carcinogenic metals and icky chemicals that you and your kids will want to stay away from (you can learn how to make your own nontoxic face paint here! Hint: organic food coloring).


Recycled costume from

Recycled costume from


2. Choose Halloween candy (ideally fair-trade and organic) with the least amount of packaging. Natural, organic, and fair-trade candy and chocolate are the way to go; they are farmer-friendly, environmentally and economically ethical, and a much healthier choice. Candy is candy and sugar is sugar, but ingredients matter. Skip the high fructose corn syrup and Yellow #5 this year and go for the real thing that is made from pure and whole ingredients. Organic and fair-trade candy also comes in more environmentally-friendly packaging. Our recommendations are Endangered Species Chocolate, Divine chocolate, and organic lollipops by Yummy Earth. If you’re really craving traditional Halloween candy and the pricier organic/fair-trade options are a little out of your holiday budget, at least buy your treats in bulk and choose candy that does not come in a ton of individual packaging— wrappers create a ton of waste!



3. Make your own decorations and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle— always. No more plastic pumpkins! Buy local, organic pumpkins instead, carve them up into unique jack-0-lanterns, and save the seeds and pulp for some yummy autumn recipes (like organic roasted pumpkin seeds or organic pumpkin bars). Miniature pumpkins, colorful gourds, or autumn wreaths made from nature are perfect for around the office and can provide a festive fall touch to your desk. Try some of these fun and awesome eco-friendly Halloween crafts and remember to use recycled, nontoxic, and eco-friendly materials whenever possible and arts & crafts products (paints, glues, etc.) that contain low VOCs. Lastly, remember to always save your Halloween decorations and costumes so you can reuse them next year!





Trying to green your building or business? Not sure where to start? Choosing to clean green is the perfect first step.

Enlisting the help of a green cleaning service is an excellent way to go green and maximize your business’ and building’s overall sustainability. At GBS, our mission is to help you go green!

Check out the article below to learn why green cleaning is such an integral part of becoming USGBC LEED certified and running a green business.

Incorporating a Green Cleaning Policy in Your Building

Because of the environmental and human health benefits associated with cleaning practices, the LEED© for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Rating System has incorporated credits that reward green cleaning. Green cleaning provides an excellent opportunity for enhancing a building’s sustainability without expending large sums of money, and is a good start point for greening up your building. The following article considers the benefits green cleaning and the process of implementing a green cleaning program, with insights from Stephen Ashkin, President of the Ashkin Group and member of the USGBC’s LEED-EB Committee. The Ashkin Group is a consulting group that promotes and provides services for green cleaning (

The Benefits of Green Cleaning

A major benefit of green cleaning is that it minimizes the environmental and health concerns associated with conventional cleaning practices. Many traditional products are derived from non-renewable natural resources and can be toxic to human health and cause long-term environmental problems. It is critical to recognize that the solution to these problems is not to clean less, as cleaning is essential to protecting occupant well being and safety. Rather, the solution is the selection and use of appropriate cleaning and maintenance products. Using cleaning technologies that utilize rapidly renewable derived resources without sacrificing quality, performance, or adding additional cost has tremendous life cycle advantages.

According to Stephen Ashkin, “The introduction of Green Cleaning products and processes can offer enormous economic, environmental and health benefit and LEED-EB provides a roadmap to help put all the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s no longer business as usual, but a way to create a sustainable and more productive future with a very handsome return on the investment.”

Health Issues

Cleaning products can contribute to indoor air quality problems as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) evaporate and are circulated through the building’s ventilation system. Cleaning products can also leave residues that cause eye and skin irritation, can be absorbed through the skin to affect health, can be accidentally ingested to cause poisoning, and can be inadvertently mixed to cause fatal gases and fires. These risks affect the health of building occupants and cleaning workers. Cleaner, safer, healthier buildings boost occupant health and productivity, making green cleaning a sound investment.

Nearly 3.5 million cleaning industry employees in the US are exposed to chemicals and other materials while cleaning and maintaining buildings. Ashkin notes the seriousness of this exposure from a health standpoint, because “many of the older technologies still being utilized in our buildings are formulated using ingredients that are carcinogenic, reproductive toxins, endocrine modifiers, respiratory irritants, and persistent bioaccumulative toxins.” LEED-EB addresses the human health dangers associated with cleaning by promoting safer, environmental preferable cleaning products and appropriate training for product users.

Environmental Issues

Cleaning products can cause environmental degradation throughout their lifecycle. Each year, 6 billion pounds of chemicals are used to clean commercial buildings. The majority of these products are formulated from ingredients derived from nonrenewable resources. The consumption of natural resource for cleaning goes beyond cleaning chemicals. Stephen Ashkin states that, “in addition to cleaning chemicals, the commercial cleaning industry consumes approximately 4.5 billion pounds of janitorial paper products which requires the cutting of an estimated 25 to 50 million trees. Not only does this have an enormous impact on forest and related natural systems, but the processing and bleaching of this paper consume huge quantities of water and energy, while the wastes are contaminated with some of the most deadly compounds known to man (i.e. dioxins). The paper products required by LEED-EB are made with post-consumer recycled fiber and encourage chlorine-free bleaching processes and resource minimization.”

Once used, cleaning products contribute to air pollution by releasing volatile organic compounds into the air through evaporation. This affects indoor air quality, leading to health problems in building occupants, and also contributes to fog in outdoor air. The use of cleaning products can also contribute to water pollution. Although wastewater treatment systems typically remove chemicals found in cleaning products, inadequately treated water containing cleaning products can be toxic to aquatic species. Also, products containing phosphorus or nitrogen contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, lowering water quality (EPA Guide for Federal Purchasers—Greening Your Purchase of Cleaning Products,

Economic Issues

Because demand and technology for green cleaning products is growing, in most cases green products are comparably priced with convention products. Any additional investment in green cleaning supplies and equipment is quickly offset by the economic benefits associated with their reduced impact on human health. Custodial workers suffer a high number of injuries in comparison to other job categories, and many of these injuries are a result of exposure to hazardous cleaning chemicals. Green products reduce worker’s compensation by lowering injuries, as well as owner liability. Green cleaning practices can also reduce turnover among custodial workers, as a portion of turnover is related to individuals leaving the profession in order to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals.

Another economic benefit is related to occupant productivity. By replacing products that negatively affect indoor environmental quality, the health and productivity of all building occupants is improved. This reduces absenteeism and health care costs, and improves worker productivity, which leads to increased profitability.

Green Cleaning in LEED-EB

By incorporating green cleaning credits into LEED-EB, the USGBC is expanding awareness and demand for green cleaning. According to Ashkin, who’s consulting firm assists organizations in implementing green cleaning programs, “if the mission of the US Green Building Council is to help be a catalyst to transform industry, then the LEED-EB Rating System is having an overwhelming transformation impact on the cleaning industry. LEED-EB is creating a huge demand for Green Cleaning products and makes it both easy and profitable for manufacturers to redesign their products and service offerings. For example, since the launch of the LEED-EB Pilot Program, the number of chemical manufacturers with Green Seal “certified” products has more than tripled.”

Three of the five credit categories in the LEED-EB Rating System include credits pertaining to green cleaning products and practices. These standards can be used as a roadmap for integrating a comprehensive green cleaning plan in your building. View summaries of LEED-EB green cleaning credits below, or download the entire LEED-EB Rating System online.

  • Sustainable Sites Credit 1: Plan for Green Site and Building Exterior Management
    This credit offers up to 2 points for an exterior site management plan that includes, among other things, developing a policy for sustainably cleaning and maintaining the building exterior.
  • Materials & Resources Credit 4: Sustainable Cleaning Products and Materials
    This credit offers up to 3 points for the implementing a purchasing program for cleaning materials and products, disposable janitorial paper products, and trash bags that meet sustainability criteria.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality 10.1: Green Cleaning—Entryway Systems
    This credit offers 1 point for the use of entryway systems (grills, grates, mats, etc.) that reduce the amount of dirt, dust, pollen, and other particles entering the building, and for the use of cleaning strategies to maintain entryways and exterior walkways.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality 10.2: Green Cleaning—Isolation of Janitorial Closets
    This credit offers 1 point for the proper isolation of janitorial closets. Isolation measures include deck-to-deck partitions with separate exhausting, no air re-circulation, negative pressure in all closets, and hot and cold water and drains plumbed for appropriate disposal of liquid wastes.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality 10.3: Green Cleaning—Cleaning Policy
    This credit offers 1 point for the adoption of a green cleaning policy. The policy should include the use of sustainable cleaning systems, sustainable cleaning products, chemical concentrates and dilution systems, programs for the proper training of maintenance personnel, hand soaps not containing antimicrobial agents excepts where required by code, and cleaning equipment that reduces impacts on IAQ.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality 10.4-10.5:Green Cleaning—Pest Management Policy
    This credit offers up to two points for the development and implementation of an integrated indoor pest management policy that minimizes the use of toxic pesticides.

Tips for Implementing Green Cleaning Policies

Stephen Ashkin offers the following tips for facility managers and building owners looking to adopt green cleaning policies:

  1. Work with knowledgeable vendors
    Unless you’re an expert on the subject, try to identify vendors or service providers that have experience with green cleaning. This is a lot easier than trying to teach them (the vendors). Experience with LEED-EB and the green cleaning “roadmap” it offers is a real plus.
  2. Assess your current situation
    Before starting your program, determine your starting point by conducting a simple audit. This will help you recognize all opportunities for improvement and build a better plan. Also, as part of your plan you may need to evaluate your cleaning budget. Unfortunately, you may be paying the same amount per square foot as the building next door, but many are only paying for acceptable appearances and minimal tenant complaints. Today, while green cleaning products and services are competitively priced compared to traditional products, you may find that you need to invest more in cleaning to achieve the health, performance, productivity and other potential benefits to be had. Please consider it – you may find an outstanding return on the investment.
  3. Have a comprehensive plan
    Recognize that while simply switching to a few “green” products or equipment is a good thing, this is not enough. For best results, implement a comprehensive program that includes the chemicals, paper, equipment, entry mats, tools, etc. And keep in mind that 80% to 90% of the cleaning budget is labor, so don’t forget training and winning the “buy-in” from your janitorial staff. Remember, change is hard and the people on the ground level can make or break your program.
  4. Engage the building occupants
    The real objective of a green cleaning program is to help us become “stewards” of our buildings – caring not only for the structure, materials, finishes, office equipment, etc., but ultimately ensuring the wellbeing of the people in our buildings. Being good stewards requires that individual occupants recognize and take responsibility for their actions. For example, by properly separating their recyclables from the trash, or minimizing crumbs and other food sources that attract pests. Education and ongoing communication is essential to help everyone recognize that unless we each do our part, we can’t create the healthiest, most productive building with the least environmental impacts.



The Best Green Upgrades for the Office

Don’t be intimidated by the words “going green”– even little upgrades here and there can transform your workplace and business into much more sustainable sanctuaries!

Although we also encourage “large-scale” upgrades (such as installing solar panels) to make your business and/or building  operationally sustainable and certified green, starting small is very realizable and can immediately make a big difference. When getting started, try to stick to relatively inexpensive investments that will save your business energy, resources, and money over time (we promise that it’s much easier than you think!).

The best affordable green upgrades for the office that we recommend are:

Let natural light in. Opening the blinds and letting your office windows fill your workplace with natural light not only will significantly cut down on your energy costs, but sunlight is also good for your health.

Swap your bulbs. Make sure all of your lamps and overhead light fixtures are as energy-efficient as possible! Trade out traditional incandescent light bulbs for eco-friendly LED ones- they will save you a ton of money and they omit much better light (crisp and clear, versus glaring and yellow).

– Use recycled paper. Or better yet, go paperless! If you really must print something off, always use 100% recycled paper, enforce a strict recycling policy in the office, and get some recycling bins! Recycle as much as possible, and use recycled office products whenever possible– check out for recycled office supplies, promotional products, and more.

– Clean green! We cannot stress enough how important it is to be ecologically responsible and to spare the air and your employees from being exposed to the toxic synthetic chemicals that are found in conventional cleaning products. Purge the janitor’s closet of chemical-ridden (phosphates and phthalates, etc.) cleaners, and instead go for more environmentally friendly and non-toxic alternatives. When you clean green, you are truly making your office, building, business, and environment a greener and healthier place!