The word “Green” is not an ubiquitous term for anything environmental, although there is a tendency to substitute the word “Green” for the word “Environmental”. Environmentalism is a big topic with several subdivisions. Under this big environmental heading we will find Green, Sustainable, Pollution and Conservation. Each of these subsections is an enormous topic in its own right.
In the mix of words and concepts, we have lost the basic meaning of Green. Environmental, Green or Sustainable now blurs to that ugly green color we do when we mix all the colors into one big block in kindergarten. We cannot move forward when confusion reigns, and every science begins with a definition of a term.
The best definition of green is the health impact of what we do on living things. So Green is primarily a health issue. This is seen in the fact that cleaning products were the first Green issues. In fact, indoor air quality is a big factor in green buildings. Sick building syndrome was the result of Green’s antithesis, poor indoor air quality.
Sustainability is also badly translated into many practices, but it mainly deals with the management of our resources. This is a complementary topic for Green, so a Green and Sustainable business means that the company takes into account the health of the workplace and the financial demands of the business.
The health of the workplace can be affected by cleaning products, building materials, furniture, paint and carpets. “Getting out of gas” is a well-documented concern. Installing new carpet, new furniture, new paint, and new wood leaves residual smoke as these items continue to dry. Your senses will betray you because we think that anything new is clean and healthy, but this is a huge mistake. Paint, carpet glue, and varnishes and additives for wood fall under the category of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are not good for you. If your health is at stake, these fumes can worsen your condition and precipitate illness. If you are healthy, prolonged exposure will wear you out over time.
Think recirculated dust, which includes bacteria, viruses, dust mite feces and flakes, carbon from replicas and much more. It is a miracle that we are not always sick, except that we are generally healthy and can live in hostile environments for long periods of time.
The people who need to help clean our facilities and protect our health with disinfectant processes are janitors, but clean does not mean healthy. The ammonia in the window spray is harmful, the zinc in the floor covering is bad for humans, the numerous chemicals in the cleaners make the situation worse.
Mold is a persistent problem for many buildings. Mold spores are never good for workers and can become a crisis concern if left untreated. Hidden problems persist in the HVAC system as well. It’s fair to say that the mood of any building is a kind of “Ground Zero” for any office or business. If workers are adversely affected, productivity will drop. Afternoon headaches, occasional nausea and lethargy can all be signs of an unhealthy indoor air quality. So, even though your building is energy efficient and you save water by recycling your trash (sustainability issues), the building may not be very Green because it is unhealthy.
The Green Business League believes that a Green office begins with a healthy office understanding and a serious look at components that compromise indoor air quality. Consider using a Green certified cleaning service that also uses green cleaning products, microfiber cloths, and HEPA vacuums. Don’t let mold go untreated. Watch out for all paint, carpet, and furniture used in the property, as they release large amounts of gas into the air.
Green is primarily a health-related issue, interfering with other sustainability, pollution control and conservation issues. By dividing the subjects correctly, the plan of attack looks much clearer. To attack the problem in a methodical way, businesses should first consider “Going Green” and then move on to sustainable issues. The initial disdain for the word green comes from the anti-trade stances of ultra-conservatives who need a target for their anger. Green, properly understood, is not an anti-business concept. A green business is business that is a good place for living things in the workplace, in the community, and in the world.