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U.S. Department of the Interior
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CHAPTER 5: Federal, State, and Local Approaches

Several federal, state, and local government agencies have adopted green cleaning and/or environmentally preferable purchasing programs. This chapter provides brief summaries about these programs as examples of the various types of options that exist to reduce the health, safety, and environmental risks associated with cleaning. Visit the Web sites indicated throughout this section to learn more details about each program.

Department of Interior (DOI)

In an effort to procure recycled-content products and address concerns about the indoor air quality in two headquarters buildings in downtown Washington, DC, DOI established a green cleaning contract for custodial services. This contract involved changing to environmentally preferable cleaning products and supplies. DOI made environmental preferability a significant factor in the selection of the new contractor and included "greening" language in the solicitation. The 5-year, $6.28 million contract (including option years) for cleaning 1.4 million square feet of office space was awarded in August 1999.

Prohibited characteristics of products to be used in cleaning include: no Chesapeake Bay Toxics of Concern, no carcinogens, and no hazardous wastes. Desirable characteristics include: minimal skin, eye, and respiratory irritation; biodegradability; avoidance of undesirable or unnecessary dyes and fragrances; and recyclable containers and minimization of non-recyclable waste.

National Park Service (NPS)

The National Park Service (NPS), along with EPA Region 8 and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, has established a green cleaning program at Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. These parks significantly reduced the toxicity of janitorial products used in park operations with help from a Jackson, Wyoming, company. After evaluating the hazardous chemicals used, and some that were ordered but never used ¾ thereby requiring unnecessary storage and disposal ¾ NPS switched to products containing renewable resources, no Toxic Release Inventory chemicals; and those with VOC levels that meet or exceed California's VOC regulations for cleaning products.

Contact information:
Dianne Thiel
U.S. EPA Region 8 (8P-P3T)
999 18th St., Suite 300
Denver, CO 80202-2466
Phone: 303 312-6193 or 1-800-227-8917, Ext 6193

General Services Administration (GSA)

The General Services Administration (GSA) initiated the Cleaning Products Pilot Project in 1993 to identify specific cleaning products with reduced human health and safety concerns for use in cleaning the more than 7,700 buildings overseen by GSA's Public Building Service. Officials at GSA wanted to develop a list of environmentally friendly products for daily-use cleaning, floor care systems, carpet cleaners, sweeping compounds, and de-icing compounds. Nineteen cleaning products were tested. Results of the project included the development of guiding principles to incorporate environmental preferability into procurement practices and a list of attributes that should be considered when evaluating the health, safety, and environmental friendliness of a product, including: irritation potential, chronic health risks, time to ultimate biodegradation, amount of product packaging, and presence of fragrances and dyes.

Contact information:
Mark Brady (GSA)
Phone: 817 978-3711

Conrad Flessner (EPA)
Phone: 202 260-3918

Department of Defense (DOD)

The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense (DOD), is in the process of developing performance-based specifications for three janitorial services contracts that will incorporate green cleaning standards. The Pentagon is drawing heavily from DOI's experience. One of the three contracts will be a NISH contract, and at least two will incorporate an incentive clause that will reward contractors based on good performance and innovative green cleaning ideas.

Contact Information:
Bob Cox
Chief of Technical Staff
Federal Facilities Division, Pentagon
Phone: 703 693-3765

In addition, Aberdeen Proving Ground, part of DOD, developed guidance that governs the procurement of cleaning and degreasing solvents, including using non-ozone-depleting substances, substances that are readily biodegradable, and those that have reduced toxicity.

Contact information:
Robert Solyan
Phone: 410 306-2275

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmentally Preferable Product Procurement program works to establish statewide contracts for environmentally preferable products. The commonwealth focuses on products that contain recycled materials, minimize waste, conserve energy and/or water, and contain fewer toxic materials. A wide range of cleaning products, paper and plastic products, and janitorial supplies that are now available with environmentally preferable attributes. The commonwealth currently contracts for janitorial products and supplies with multiple environmental attributes, including: reduced toxicity or nontoxic formulations; recovered content and recyclability; lower concentrations of VOCs, ozone-depleting chemicals, and carcinogens; and reduced packaging.

For more information on the program, contracts, vendors, and more, visit

City of Santa Monica, California

The City of Santa Monica, California, replaced its traditional cleaning products with less toxic or nontoxic alternatives in 15 of 17 cleaning product categories, which reduced the cost of custodial products by 5 percent citywide; eliminated 3,200 pounds annually of hazardous materials in products purchased; and increased morale of custodians who recognized the city's concern for their health and working conditions and who appreciate the opportunity to participate in making decisions about their work.

For a report prepared by Santa Monica on the program successes, obstacles, and plans for the future, order "The Sustainable City Progress Report" by contacting the person listed below.

Contact Information:
Dean Kubani
Phone: 310 458-2227


Other state and local government agencies that have environmental purchasing policies include Pennsylvania; Minnesota; Bolder, Colorado; Seattle and King County, Washington; Cincinnati, Ohio; Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; and a host of other locations.