The Definition of Green

I had occasion today to encounter a question that was very simple yet profound. It was “What is the standard for Green?” The EPA has recorded the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, but these are not universal. If you ask a person interested in the biosphere type of Green, the phrase “Sustainable” is the major issue, questioning whether will an item’s use will be depleted or can it be sustained naturally. Sustainability is a big issue in a world of consumerism, but does not encompass the definition of Green for other areas of Green concern.

Those interested in the oceans are concerned about “Marine Life” and how man has impacted the animal life in the oceans. It looks at the discharges poured into rivers, lakes, and the oceans asking if we are harming the animals that feed us. If mercury goes into the water, will it return to us in the tuna we eat at lunch? So, the pollution of the water is a part of the Green definition.

“Green House Gases” seem to preoccupy those concerned about the atmosphere. In an industrial world, the manufacture of the things we wish to market creates a lot of waste that we need to dump somewhere. The EPA has long fought the dumping of chemicals from manufacturing plants and the amount of pollutant coming out of the smoke stacks of our factories.

Those concerned with the preservation of nature argue that the Green movement stems from the preservation of the tree, forest, plains, and natural habitat from the forces of developers. From the energy side of Green, we are concerned about the “depletion” of our resources. So, you can quickly see that “Going Green” is not the same for any strategic side of the Green Movement.

The Green Clean Institute is focused on the Green Office, Green Buildings, and Green Maintenance of the workplace. This is something that needs definition, so here is how we DEFINE GREEN. Green Maintenance is concerned for two aspects of our biosphere (in this case, buildings). One aspect of the Green evolution is what is the definition of Green for the janitorial and building maintenance world.

Green as we define it is:

The Immediate Impact of our products and practices, and
The Residual Impact of our products and Practices.

If we are causing harm at either of these two levels, whatever we are doing is not a Green practice. It is the broader concept of Green Practices that define those who work on and in our homes, school, offices, and public buildings that define our contribution or damage to the environment. People are impacted by the workers who are involved in the building, cleaning, and maintaining of our buildings. This has little to do with the outside world except that there are other issues out there as well. Inside a building are distinct issues of a smaller biosphere that can quickly turn into a sick building or create Building Related Illness (BRI). The spread of disease is a community issue that requires knowledgeable people to break the cycle of contagion. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) cannot be neglected because the floors are dull and require very caustic chemicals to strip and finish the floors. Every piece of furniture added, every chemical used, and every sick person adds to the well-being of the others in the recirculated air of that biosphere.

The Green Practices Initiative is a new effort to retrain our industry with the new wave of innovations that are hopefully going to provide us a better world, a better workplace, and a better cleaning program. Our business is not an environmental program in the tradition sense. While we all want to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem, I know that we have a sphere of influence that is peculiar to our industry. It is here that we can make a difference as well as a business income. This is a new website that will be looking for Green Editors to contribute to a Wikipedia type project in the Green Practices Initiative. While in construction right now, those who would like to write articles for Green Practices should inquire at the website.

Green Clean News is a parallel effort as the project is about a wider area of Green News including Green Homes, Green Office, Green Buildings, Green Products, and Green Innovations. Green Editors will be chosen to contribute news articles in there selected area of Green news. Educating people on the importance of a Green workforce is difficult, but it starts with informing people and getting those to set the agenda, issue the contracts, and act as decision-makers to require more than Green products. They must require Green Clean Certified workers (Green Janitors) including a Green Practices Clause in all contracts and bid submissions.