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Checklist Guidance for Assessing Baseline Conditions

Building managers can use the following list of questions as a guide to assess the status of their office building and cleaning efforts and to determine where to start transitioning to green cleaning activities. This checklist does not actually tell a building manager how to set up a green cleaning program, but it serves as a starting point for educating all entities involved in a green cleaning program—management, occupants, and janitors—about what they need to do to make it a successful program.

Building Considerations

  • How are various areas within the building used? Determine which require the most cleaning, and why (e.g., public restrooms, kitchen areas).

  • Where do people eat? (e.g., individual offices throughout the building, designated areas)

  • Are there any special considerations related to the building itself (e.g., it is an historical building that has special preservation requirements or security issues)?

  • Do any office furnishing have special cleaning requirements (e.g., thick carpets, antique furniture)?

  • Are there any known at-risk populations who may be more adversely affected by the use of some chemicals (e.g., children, asthmatics, persons with weakened immune systems, or pregnant women)?

  • Does the building have an adequate ventilation system to circulate air throughout the building?

  • Does the building have any plumbing or moisture problems?

  • Is there a method in place to keep dirt from entering the building in the first place (e.g., mats at the front door, double-door entryways)?

Adequacy of Current Cleaning Program

  • What are issues of concern to management, cleaning personnel, and building occupants? Conduct interviews on a representative basis.

  • Review the log of tenant complaints over the last year. What are the items that come up consistently?

  • How is the quality of cleaning currently being evaluated/measured? How often are inspections performed? Are there trends in the deficiencies cited?

Cleaning Materials Usage

  • List the janitorial products that are currently in use for each of the following applications and identify how often the cleaning task is performed and how much of the product is used per month

  • Are there any reasons to change the procedure or frequency for these cleaning applications?

Environmentally Preferable Attributes of Chemical Cleaners

Use the table on the following page to evaluate each product currently in use. This chart summarizes the attributes included in the Green Seal, Inc. Standard (GS-37) on Industrial and Institutional Cleaners. Please refer to the standard for a definition of each attribute.

Product Name___________

Attribute Name
Attribute Definition
Toxic Compounds
Oral LD50 <2,000 mg/kg Inhalation LC50 <20 mg/L   
Carcinogens/ Reproductive Toxins
Not listed as known, probable or possible carcinogen by IARC, NTP, U.S. EPA or OSHA. Not listed as a reproductive toxin by State of California under Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.
Skin and Eye Irritation
Not corrosive to skin as tested using the Human Skin Construct systems. Not corrosive to eyes using the bovine opacity and permeability test after a 10-minute exposure.    
Skin Sensitization
Not a skin sensitizer as tested by the OECD Guidelines for Testing Chemicals, Section 406.    
Flashpoint >150°F
Photochemical/ Smog/Ozone/
Protection/Indoor Air Quality VOC content of product <1% by weight for general purpose and bathroom cleaners and <3% by weight for glass cleaners.    
Toxicity to Aquatic Life
Acute LC50 for algae, daphnia or fish >100 mg/l    
Aquatic Biodegradability
Each of the organic ingredients exhibits ready biodegradability in accord. with OECD definition exc. FIFRA-registered bathroom cleaner ingredient    
Shall not contain more than 0.5% by weight of total phosphorus.    
Package is recyclable, or can be returned and refilled.    
Distributed in concentrate form (exc. For FIFRA-registered bathroom cleaners.    
Fragrances are identified on MSDS and follows Code of Practice of International Fragrance Association.    
Prohibited Ingredients
Does not contain: alkylphenol ethoxylates; dibutyl phthalate; heavy metals (arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, mercury, nickel, or selenium); or ozone-depleting compounds.    
Product supported with training or training materials on proper use of product (step-by-step instructions, etc.)    
Animal Testing
Non-animal test results from peer-reviewed or standard tests are acceptable to demonstrate compliance with criterion #1, 3 and 8.

* Refer to Green Seal's Standard (GS-37) for complete text of attribute definition.

Paper and Other Consumable Products

  • Are the paper towels used in the bathrooms made with at least 40 percent or more postconsumer recovered fiber? Are the paper towels deinked and bleached without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives?

  • Is the bathroom tissue made with at least 20 percent or more postconsumer recovered fiber? Is the bathroom tissue deinked and bleached without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives?

  • Are the industrial wipers made with at least 40 percent or more postconsumer recovered fiber? Are wipers deinked and bleached without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives? Could reusable cloth wipers be used instead through a laundry service?

  • Are the plastic trash bags made with at least 10 percent or more postconsumer plastic?

  • Are there other products used in the janitorial services that are or could be made with recycled content?

Chemical Storage and Dispensing

  • Where are the cleaning products stored (e.g., storage room, storage locker)?

  • Do these storage areas meet OSHA requirements for the storage of hazardous materials?

  • How are incompatible products identified and separated?

  • Are there NFPA placards outside the storage rooms, indicating the nature of the hazards of the chemicals stored?

  • How are dilution protocols established? How do you ensure the ready-to-use dilutions of each product are being mixed correctly (i.e., products are not being under diluted or over diluted)?

  • Can/are dedicated dispensers or portioners being used?

  • Is there an eye wash station within a 10-second walk from the chemical mixing area?

  • What measures are employed to prevent and contain spills? Is there a berm or some type of secondary containment around the storage and dispensing area? Is there a cover over any drain in the room to prevent discharge of spilled material?

  • Is there a spill kit containing absorbent, personnel protection equipment and other cleanup materials?

  • Are emergency spill response procedures posted on the wall? Is there an emergency contact number indicated?

Worker Health and Safety Considerations

  • Review worker injury records. What is the history and nature of injuries to janitors?

  • Do tenants or cleaning staff have any concerns about the health effects of the products being used?

  • Do any cleaning staff members have asthma or other conditions that would make them more chemically sensitive?

  • Do cleaning staff know:

    • Where the MSDSs are maintained?

    • How to find health effects and recommended personnel protection information on an MSDS?

    • How to handle chemical spills?

    • How to handle blood and other bodily fluids safely?

    • Where hazardous materials are stored in the building?

    • Where asbestos-containing materials are present in the building and that they are not to be disturbed?

  • Are cleaning staff issued personnel protective equipment? For what cleaning applications is it issued? Do staff comply with using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Equipment Considerations

  • What equipment is currently used (e.g., HEPA vacuum cleaners, hard floor strippers) and how frequently?

  • What type of carpet cleaning system is used?

  • Is the equipment in good condition (e.g., no frayed cords) and performing adequately?

  • Is any additional equipment needed?

  • Are there any places where equipment substitution is possible or advisable to improve indoor air quality (e.g., using a vacuum or wet mop instead of a broom to make sure all dust particles are picked up)?

  • How could the performance of the equipment be improved?

Hazardous Waste Management

  • Have you identified any routinely generated hazardous wastes? Possible hazardous wastes associated with janitorial work include: NiCad batteries, pressurized spray cans with unused product, waste solvent, and spill residues from floor stripper and or floor finish. What are the EPA waste codes for these wastes?

  • Do you qualify as a conditionally-exempt small quantity generator? For more information, visit EPA's Web site at

  • If you need one, have you obtained an EPA hazardous waste generator identification number? (If not, start by calling EPA's RCRA Hotline at 800 424-9348 or find the appropriate state office to contact at

  • Do you have containers in good condition to hold these hazardous wastes?

  • Do you have hazardous waste labels for shipment with your wastes?

  • In case of you should generate hazardous waste or have a spill, have you identified an EPA-registered hazardous waste management/transporter contractor who can ship your waste to a permitted disposal/treatment facility?

Training Considerations

  • Do all new janitors undergo a training program before they start working? Does the training program thoroughly address all of the possible issues janitors may face in their specific job? Is this training curriculum periodically reviewed and updated?

  • Are employees getting OSHA-mandated training on:

    • Hazard Communications (HAZCOM) training?

    • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) First Response Awareness Training?

    • Bloodborne pathogens (for employees who may come in contact with blood or other infectious materials)?

    • Asbestos awareness training (for employees who perform housekeeping operations in an area containing materials made with asbestos)?

    • Personnel protective equipment?

    • Respiratory protection?

  • Who does the training? Are they appropriately certified trainers?

  • Are the cleaning personnel given guides depicting proper use of cleaning products and equipment? Do they understand and employ these guidelines?

  • Do cleaning personnel know how and when to use personal protective equipment?

  • Are janitors trained about the types of chemicals they use and health and safety issues related to these chemicals?

  • Are janitors aware of the type of information provided through Material Safety Data Sheets, and do they have access to this information?

  • Is bilingual training information available?

  • Are janitors aware of storage and disposal issues for all the chemicals they use?

  • Are janitors aware of which chemicals can and cannot mix safety with other chemicals?

  • Are cleaning personnel involved with the green cleaning transition?

  • How are training records maintained to ensure all personnel are up-to-date with training requirements?