Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Policy Resource Center
Green Cleaning in Schools:
Developments in State Policy
(1) N.Y. Green Cleaning Products Law
Citation: 16 N.Y. Educ. Code § 409-i (2005)
Effective: Sept. 2005
Summary: This law requires the state to establish guidelines for environmentally-sensitive cleaning and maintenance products to use in elementary and secondary school facilities, and schools are required to use these guidelines.
- Requirements for Using Green Cleaning Products. The law requires elementary and secondary schools to identify and procure environmentally-sensitive cleaning and maintenance products that are available in the form, function, and utility generally used in school facilities. Schools are required to follow guidelines, specifications, and sample product lists developed by the state for purchasing these products. Schools may deplete existing cleaning and maintenance supply stores.
- Guidelines and Specifications. Under the law, the commissioner of the Office of General Services (OGS), in consultation with the state environment, health and labor agencies, is required to establish and periodically amend guidelines and specifications for environmentally-sensitive cleaning and maintenance products for use in elementary and secondary school facilities. The law also requires the state to prepare and disseminate a sample list of products that meet such guidelines. (A description of the Guidelines developed under the law is included below.)
- Assistance to Schools. The state general services agency is required to provide assistance and guidance to elementary and secondary schools in carrying out the requirements of this section.
- Evaluation. The law requires the state Department of Education to issue a report analyzing the impact of its green cleaning guidelines and specifications on the purchasing, procurement and use of environmentally-sensitive cleaning and maintenance products by elementary and secondary schools.
Related Legislation: On June 30, 2007, a related state finance law took effect, requiring the state Office of General Services to maintain a list of contractors that produce, manufacture, or offer for sale the environmentally-sensitive cleaning and maintenance products used by elementary and secondary schools in accordance with the state’s guidance. (See 56 N.Y. State Fin. §163(3)(b)(vii)).
(2) Administrative Guidelines Implementing N.Y. Green Cleaning Products Law
Citation: Office of General Services, New York State, “Guidelines and Specifications for the Procurement and Use of Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning and Maintenance Products for Public and Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools in New York State and for the Procurement and Use of Environmentally Preferred Cleaning Products for State Agencies/Public Authorities in New York State”
Effective: August 2006 (Revised August 2006, March 2007, April 2010)
Summary: These OGS Guidelines implement New York State’s green cleaning products law by assisting school districts in selecting and using green cleaning products. The 14-page document was revised in 2010 to reflect changes to the Green Seal GS-37 standard for cleaning products and to incorporate other information resources developed by the state.
- Product Selection/Specifications. The OGS Guidelines describe the five categories of products included in the OGS Approved Green Cleaning Products List. The categories include: cleaning products (general purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, carpet cleaners, carpet spot removers, and glass cleaners), hand soaps, floor finish products, floor finish stripper products, and vacuum cleaners. Cleaning products must meet one of three criteria: Green Seal certification (revised GS-37 standard), EcoLogo certification, or Self-Attestation as described in the guidelines. The state uses the Carpet and Rug Institute’s certification program for vacuum cleaners.
- Best Cleaning and Management Practices. The OGS Guidelines encourage best cleaning and management practices and reference the Green Cleaning Best Practices document compiled by OGS. The Best Practices document outlines guidelines for the use of equipment and chemical products; plans, procedures, and policies; training; and preventive measures. The document is organized into five categories; general, carpet, floor, food area/kitchen, and restroom cleaning.
- Training and Technical Assistance. The Guidelines describe and reference a new, voluntary On-Line Training Program developed by OGS. The training program includes several separate courses: introduction; basics of green cleaning; restroom cleaning; floor care and maintenance; carpet care and maintenance; and supervisory.