Cost and Benefit of Green Cleaning
The new US Courthouse in downtown Seattle, WA is one of six General Services Administration (GSA) Region 10 facilitles attempting green building certifcation under USGBC's LEED Volume Certifaction for large portfolio owners.
While GSA policies require that green cleaning practices are in effect at their GSA managed facilities, often times the verification of those practices is not easy and the cost of that requirement is not understood. The data collection effort made the staff at the Seattle Courthouse more aware of the cost of doing business in a sustainable way. Specifically, the green cleaning cost per square foot data derived from vendor input was both very informative and surprisingly low.
Without any change in practices the price of the custodial vendor for the Seattle Courthouse was approximately $0.02/sq.ft. This included a cleaning product and supplies portfolio that was 58% certified sustainable. This custodial vendor cost included everything from floor cleaner to toilet paper. Considering that the average cost for janitorial services is upwards of $0.10 per square foot, this amount seemed well within reasonable limits.
Green buildings are estimated to save as much as 20% on cleaning costs, according to a report by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This data can be used as a metric in planning and budgeting for other facilities considering the impact of using green cleaning products.
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The US Courthouse in downtown Seattle, WA