A simplified path to LEED®:EB- O&M success

July 30, 2013
Corporate social responsibility has come a long way. At its inception, corporate efforts centered around a risk-based compliance where corporate leaders were simply trying to “do the right thing.” Nowadays, we find a complex discipline where the notions of triple bottom line, full disclosure and transparency are top of mind to the wide array of a company’s stakeholders: from investors, to employees, to local communities and, of course, customers. A strong corporate social responsibility program can now be seen as a competitive advantage in markets where the competition is fierce.

Corporate social responsibility has come a long way. At its inception, corporate efforts centered around a risk-based compliance where corporate leaders were simply trying to “do the right thing.” Nowadays, we find a complex discipline where the notions of triple bottom line, full disclosure and transparency are top of mind to the wide array of a company’s stakeholders: from investors, to employees, to local communities and, of course, customers. A strong corporate social responsibility program can now be seen as a competitive advantage in markets where the competition is fierce.

At the start, green buildings were meant to answer the call of energy savings and resource efficiency, and have evolved to incorporate the notion of Triple Bottom Line where emphasis has shifted from planet to people and profits. Green buildings must now deliver strong economic indicators such as ROI, as well as other social priorities such as employee health and productivity.

Studies around the world confirm that green buildings can attract tenants more easily and command higher rents and tenant longevity. In some markets, where certified buildings are readily available, the notion of brown discounts – where buildings that are not certified may rent or sell for less – is starting to emerge.

An often overlooked part of the LEED® certification process is the green cleaning perspective. Under the LEED®:EB-O&M certification, green cleaning is a program put in place in order to reduce waste, increase efficiencies and make the indoor environment of a building healthier for occupants. This program requires that certain protocols be followed and that certain certified products be used.

A green cleaning program can bring a high return on investment by being relatively easy to implement and requiring minimal variable investments – compared to some other credits requiring high fixed capital investments. What’s more, Property Owners, Building Managers and tenants are starting to take a closer look at green cleaning as they realize the importance of providing a healthy indoor environment to their employees.

As a LEED® certification consultant, you’re striving to make a difference for your customers. Benchmarks for certification are moving upward, and standards in the industry are moving to Gold-level certification. You’re also under pressure to find solutions that are affordable, yet do not require additional costs or complexities when it comes to implementation.

This white paper lays out the business case for green cleaning credits and provides insights and industry facts for the LEED® consultant as well as a detailed action plan to take your customers to the next level. It also outlines how working with a knowledgeable partner from the start can bring additional value to the process, and the best way to go about qualifying for those additional green cleaning certification points.

You will also discover how your customers could earn up to 15 points towards LEED®:EB-O&M certification. Most of the points will fall under Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) standards, while others fall under Water Efficiency or Materials & Resources.

Key Fact and Figures Building the Case

In a recent Ernst & Young survey (in cooperation with Greenbiz Group), 74% of respondents indicated that cost-cutting was the principal driver of their company’s sustainability agenda, followed closely by stakeholder’s expectations (68%), managing risks (61%) and revenue generation (56%)1.

When it comes to sustainability (specifically in terms of return on investment) it seems that the paybacks generated by energy efficiency upgrades are meeting the required rates of return.

Furthermore, with regards to LEED® certification, the benefits seem high enough that meeting that ROI faster seems less of an imperative. 67% of the survey respondents indicated that sustainability projects must meet the same payback requirements as other projects, while 20% said that the payback can take longer. Only 13% said that sustainability projects must have shorter paybacks.


Key benefit drivers for stakeholders

Studies carried out throughout the world in the past few decades have noted evidence that LEED® certified buildings carry a higher value than their conventional counterparts. This chart outlines the main benefits for Building Managers and Tenants.

Building Managers


Increased Occupancy rates

Reduced downtime

Higher rental rate

Increased productivity

Tenant longevity

Health and well-being

Lower operating costs

Lower maintenance costs

Corporate image and prestige value

Compliance with CSR

The link to a higher certification level

We all know that LEED®-certified buildings typically command higher rental premiums, but did you know that LEED®-certified buildings have also shown a trend toward increased rental premiums associated with higher levels of certification?

“It is estimated that a LEED®-certified building with a normalized score of 40 (basic certification) has an effective rent 2.1 percent higher than the rent of an otherwise identical registered building. A LEED®-certified building with a normalized score of 60 (lowest gold level) has an incremental rent almost ten times as large, 20.1 percent.5“

Despite this study, most professionals in the industry will agree that the real purpose of getting a higher certification level is to allow you to avoid the emerging brown discounts found in some areas and secure high quality tenants.

Sizing the opportunity

According to the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) – a US Green Building Council platform for exploring and comparing the green dimensions of the built environment – buildings that were certified at the basic level in 2012 did not achieve certification using a lot of green cleaning credits.

According to the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) – a US Green Building Council platform for exploring and comparing the green dimensions of the built environment – buildings that were certified at the basic level in 2012 did not achieve certification using a lot of green cleaning credits.

  • 60% achieved credit 3.1
  • Less than 50% of buildings achieved credit 3.2
  • 55% of buildings achieved credit 3.3
  • Less than 50% achieved credit 3.4
  • And less than 30% achieved credit 3.5

Based on these findings, we can assume that 40% of buildings certified in 2012 did not consider green cleaning as part of their efforts. Any of the buildings that scored 44 points or higher could have easily reached Silver level by focusing on green cleaning, as the 5 credits above are worth a possible 6 points.

At the next level, the difference between silver and gold, there are about 20% of the buildings that didn’t achieve green cleaning credits.

PageBreakUnderstanding the LEED®:EB-O&M Green Cleaning credits

This section will outline specifically the prerequisites and credits that can be obtained via a Green Cleaning Program based on LEED®:EB-O&M 2009. This is the most recent version of LEED® green building certification system for existing buildings and it consolidates all of the major components of a green cleaning program into one section.

Prerequisite: Green Cleaning Policy

A green cleaning policy is a prerequisite to certification under the LEED®:EB-O&M Rating system. It must incorporate references to the credits (IEQ3.1-3.6) and should also contain the following components:





Outline the facility management, operations processes, building
components as well as systems and materials to which the policy applies.

Identify the goals of the Green
Cleaning Policy.

Indicate the name and title of the parties responsible to develop
and manage the implementation of the Green Cleaning Policy.

Indicate the evaluation method of the policy as well as the frequency and key metrics used to measure performance.





This section outlines the practices put in place to optimize the use of sustainable cleaning products and equipment, the approved product and equipment list
and the sustainability criteria.

This section should include specific information about the building’s standard operating procedures. It should indicate the systems that will be used, managed and audited regularly.

Include specific information about hand-care products and practices in use in the project building.

Provide site-specific information regarding the storage and procedures
for cleaning chemicals and equipment, as well as for addressing potential harmful accidents.





Provide a description of the dilutions systems, including the manufacturer, system components, and locations in the building as well as procedural steps for appropriate use of dilutions systems.

Indicate performance metrics and measurement that will
be used as well as practices to optimize staffing and training.

This section outlines details regarding the way occupant feedback will be collected as
well as avenues to evaluate new technologies and procedures.

Identify the time period over which the policy is deemed applicable.

Green Cleaning Credits Defined

Credit 3.1 – High Performance Cleaning Program
Facilities must outline the standard operating procedures of the green cleaning program. It should include staffing plans, recycling, and disposal as well as how the program will be audited. This credit will get you one certification point.

Credit 3.2 – Custodial Effectiveness Assessment
This credit states that facilities are encouraged to conduct an audit consistent with the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) procedures outlined in the APPA’s Staffing Guidelines. LEED®:EB-O&M will provide 1 or 2 points, based on the level of performance.

Credit 3.3 – Purchase of Sustainable Cleaning Products and Materials
If at least 30% of dollars purchased are qualified green cleaning products (products include: janitorial paper and trash bag products, cleaning chemicals and hand soaps), this credit will provide 1 point for LEED®:EB-O&M certification. In order to ensure compliance, at least two random audits need to be conducted during the performance period.

Furthermore, if 60% or 90% of dollars purchased are qualified green cleaning products, there is the option of applying for an additional point(s) under Innovation in Operations.

Credit 3.4 – Sustainable Cleaning Equipment
Under this credit, using powered cleaning equipment that reduces building contaminants and minimizes the negative impact on the environment will grant you another certification point. An equipment replacement policy, as well as a log of all equipment, showing date of purchase, repairs and maintenance records need to be part of the Program.

Credit 3.5 – Indoor Chemical & Pollutant Source Control (also known as Entryway Systems)
Because prevention is the best medicine, this component of the green cleaning program allows for a great reduction in the amount of dirt, dust, pollen and other particles that enter the building at all public entryways. Using entryway systems (grills, grates, mats) in the appropriate entrances, along with a written procedure describing the strategies in place to maintain these entryways and exterior walkways clean is outlined in the program and will get you a certification point.


Sustainable Sites Credit 2 – Building Exterior and Hardscape Management Plan
Sustainable Sites promote responsible, innovative and practical site design strategies that are sensitive to the environment, as well as water and air quality. Credit 2 focuses on a hardscape management plan aimed at encouraging environmentally sensitive building exterior and hardscape management practices. A Snow and Ice removal procedure that falls under these guidelines can get you an additional certification point.

Sustainable Sites Credit 3 – Integrated Pest Management, Landscape Management Plan
This credit is pursuant to credit 3.6 (Indoor Integrated Pest Management) described above and requires that you put in place an environmentally sensitive management plan in place for the site’s natural components. This includes a preferred use of non-chemical methods as well as using other strategies such as:

  • Reducing the use of power equipment
  • Improving control of storm water runoff
  • Removing or not installing invasive plants
  • Protecting natural areas

Water Efficiency Credit 2: Additional Indoor Plumbing Fixture and Fitting (water reduction efficiency)
The purpose of this credit is to maximize indoor plumbing fixture and fitting efficiency within buildings in order to reduce the use of potable water and consequent burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems. The higher the water reduction efficiency you can achieve, the higher the number of certification points you can obtain.

Materials & Resources Credit 6: Solid Waste Management – Waste Stream Audit
The purpose of this credit is to facilitate the reduction of ongoing waste and toxins generated by building occupants and building operations that are hauled to and disposed of in landfills or incineration facilities. The way to get a certification point is to conduct a waste stream audit of the building’s entire ongoing consumables waste stream, and then use this audit to identify opportunities of increased recycling and waste diversion.

The Unisource Solution: A simplified path to LEED®:EB-O&M success.
Unisource partners with LEED® certification consultants in order to make the whole process easier. Our ISSA-certified Green Cleaning Professionals are trained to look at LEED® certification not just in terms of aesthetics, but also from a practical point of view, in order to help you build a full green cleaning program that suits your customer’s certification needs. This section will outline specific areas where Unisource can assist you.

Prerequisite: Green Cleaning Policy
Unisource has built a template that provides a structure to develop a combined Green Cleaning Policy and Program Plan compliant with LEED® for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED®:EB-O&M) requirements. When completed properly, this document can be submitted as evidence of compliance with IEQp3, IEQc3.1 and IEQc3.5.

Green Cleaning Points
Unisource can assist you by developing a solid plan aimed at targeting these credits:



LEED®:EB- O&M points

Prerequisite 3

Green Cleaning Policy (template your customers can use)


Credit 3.1

High Performance Cleaning Program


Credit 3.2

Custodial Effectiveness Assessment
•  APPA score of 3
•  APPA score of 1 or 2



Credit 3.3

Purchase of Sustainable Cleaning Products and Materials
•  Green Gauge LEED® score of 30% or above


Sustainable Cleaning Equipment


Credit 3.5

Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source


Credit 3.6

Indoor Integrated Pest Management



Innovation in Operations
Green Gauge LEED score between 60-89% Green Gauge LEED score 90% +



Unisource can also collaborate with you to gain additional points outside of the Green Cleaning Program:


Description LEED®:EB- O&M points

Sustainable Sites

Credit 2: Building Exterior and Hardscape
Management Plan
•  Snow and ice removal (ice melter)
•  Chemicals used in window & building exterior cleaning

Credit 3: Integrated Pest Management, Erosion Control and Landscape Management Plan
•  Refers to pest control chemical requirements IEQc3.6






Water Efficiency

WE Credit 2: Additional Indoor Plumbing
Fixture and Fitting

Efficiency (Points based on water reduction):
•  10% water reduction
•  15% water reduction
•  20% water reduction
•  25% water reduction
•  30% water reduction

1 - 5



Materials and

MR Credit 6: Solid Waste Management – Waste Stream Audit



The Green Gauge™ Tool
Unisource developed a comprehensive, simplified tool to help you navigate the LEED® certification process, allowing you to save time and get organized. This tool can help you track, assess, organize and report your purchase of sustainable cleaning products, making the job of reporting LEED®purchases much easier.

  • Track purchase details for one or multiple buildings
  • Track your purchase history by month to document improvements
  • Compare your sustainable vs. non sustainable spending
  • Determine LEED® points currently earned
  • Find out the top sustainable product opportunities that earn LEED® credits
  • Compare total company spending vs. location spending
  • Stay on track for sustained LEED® recertification
  • And so much more...

In addition to certified sustainable cleaning products and equipment, our ISSA certified green cleaning professionals can provide you with:

  • Assistance in the training and implementation of a Green Cleaning Program
  • Custodial Effectiveness Assessments
  • Access to an extensive line of national brand and our exclusive Unisource brand of sustainable cleaning products certified to meet LEED® IEQc3.3, including best in class products from industry leading manufacturers


In an increasingly competitive marketplace, green has not only become a business opportunity, it is becoming a business imperative. In the U.S., even though the concept of green building has been around for decades, the most dramatic increases occurred between 2008 and 2011, during an economic downturn6. Client demand and internal corporate commitment drive this green building adoption, and the shift to green becoming standard is highly unlikely to reverse itself.

In Canada, according to Thomas Mueller, president and chief executive officer of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), “We started to see strong demand for large commercial office retrofit. The biggest driver in Canada has been the tenant demand for green office space, preferably LEED® certified.”

LEED® consultants looking to bring value to their customers should consider partnering with an expert that can help them achieve additional certification points by using a relatively simple solution: Green Cleaning. Unisource can support you with LEED® certification efforts, enabling you to reach new heights and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The Unisource difference

As a leading global provider, we are a one-stop solution. We provide the support, scalable resources and industry expertise to help our customers improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. With our extensive supplier base and national distribution network for facility supplies, Unisource
offers consistent, convenient access to the leading industry cleaning and facility maintenance products and solutions. To learn more about Unisource Worldwide Inc., please visit www.unisourceworldwide.com.

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