Updates and Observations from HSC’s Green Clean Schools National Summit

October 14, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

Summit

Earlier this fall, HSC pulled together more than 60 advocates, cleaning manufacturers, distributors and national partners in Washington D.C. at our second Green Clean Schools National Summit. It was a time to network, share, and plan for more efforts to promote green cleaning policy.

A few of my observations from the Summit:

1) As of 2009, 8 states have some sort of school green cleaning policies. Green cleaning in schools is no longer new. It’s common, it’s being done, and it works.

2) My favorite factoids come from comparing Illinois and Connecticut. Illinois passed a school green cleaning law in 2007 and then in 2009 followed up with a law requiring green cleaning in state buildings. Connecticut passed a green cleaning law for state buildings in 2007 and then in 2009 followed up with a school green cleaning law. So no matter where you start, passing policy begets more policy — especially when your policy is for something as smart and efficient as green cleaning — and starting smaller can lead to bigger gains down the road.

3) There is still no single consensus on how to define green — it’s still a bit of the wild west in the green world. There are great third party programs out there that are helping guide the way, but no single entity has established one all-encompassing way to define a complete green program. From a guidance perspective, HSC’s Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools is our effort to put a comprehensive bow around the available green programs in the current marketplace. But when it comes to policy, it gets a bit more complex.

4) Finally, there are great changes on the horizon when it comes to how we label green products. In the next year, we should see the emergence of a “nutritional label” equivalent for environmental attributes. I mean, you can’t represent every environmental attribute in a single green dot. So the creation of an easy-to-use label that puts more usable information into the end user’s hands is an exciting development. We’ll keep people up to date.

As for next steps from HSC’s perspective — we’ll keep our eyes on legislation that is being introduced, work with our partners to support their efforts, and identify states where we can help introduce new bills to encourage greater adoption of green cleaning policy.

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