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Tuesday, 05 May 2009 16:46

GE Leads Pursuit of LEED Gold CI Certification at Connecticut Property

Written by  Michael Diamond & Susan Minichiello


General Electric recently signed a 15-year lease of the property at 800 Long Ridge in Stamford, CT, to house the headquarters of its Energy and Financial Services divisions. This past December marked the completion of the total renovation of the four-story building, which consisted of 275,000 square feet of class A office space.

With a challenging goal of achieving LEED Gold Commercial Interiors (CI) Certification, the innovative facility required strict adherence to unique and rigorous practices in terms of cleaning and maintenance, energy use, recycling, lighting and other mechanicals, and more.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark that establishes tools and performance criteria for green buildings. Ratings systems of possible points exist for each project type in the following categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation. For LEED Gold CI, the project type that applies to 800 Long Ridge Road, certification requires attaining a minimum of 32 out of a possible 41 points.

The property is well on its way to attaining LEED Gold CI Certification, a huge undertaking that requires significant collaboration between tenant, property owner/manager and contracted cleaning services provider. GE hopes to attain 35 points with their LEED submittals. To this end, GE’s Corporate Property & Service Operation (GE CP&SO) created a green housekeeping and cleaning standard, which detailed the practices to be established and followed.

According to the standard, the GE CP&SO mission is “to work towards environmental sustainability by identifying and promoting environmentally responsible products, purchasing and housekeeping services.” The standard “meets the criteria of the Green Seal™ Environmental Standard for Cleaning Services for reduced toxicity, waste and exposure.”

The standard addresses a number of areas:

• Scope
• Definitions
• Planning requirements
• Requirements for products, supplies, and equipment
• Cleaning procedure requirements
• Communications requirements
• Training requirements
• Certification and labeling requirements

The planning requirements demand that, in addition to standard operating procedures, the cleaning service provider must develop and maintain a building-specific green cleaning plan. This plan must detail how the cleaning methods protect human health and the environment. It must also entail a comprehensive plan for communications between cleaning personnel and building management and occupants; a floor maintenance plan; schedules for routine cleaning operations; activities to be performed periodically; equipment operation and maintenance; cleaning inspections and accident preparedness plans; and, a detailed description of how green cleaning operations address specific issues. Additionally, the standard requires a plan for the use and maintenance of powered janitorial equipment that maximizes the effective reduction of building contaminants with minimum environmental impact, including set requirements for vacuums, carpet extraction and floor maintenance equipment, and powered scrubbing machines.

According to the standard, the cleaning service provider must also do the following:

• use only environmentally preferable products for cleaning and for stocking restrooms and break rooms (e.g., soap, toilet tissue, paper towels)
• make special efforts to reduce chemical waste and solid waste
• ensure efficient use of chemicals by cleaning staff
• follow specific guidelines for carpeting, hard floor cleaning and maintenance and operations involving disinfection, restroom, dining area and break room care, and trash and recycling

Beyond planning and operational procedures, the standard further stipulates a communications strategy be developed in collaboration with the building owner/ manager and tenant as well as training procedures. These must address such issues as tenant/employee training and feedback, notifications of pest presence and maintenance issues, and operational and safety training for cleaning personnel.

Last November, United Services of America—based in Stamford, CT— contracted with the Norwalk, CT-based Building and Land Technology (BLT) to be the cleaning service provider for the 800 Long Ridge Road property, which is owned and managed by BLT.

United Services is implementing all of the procedures outlined by the GE standard and has taken the initiative to institute its own green practices, including using a wide range of green cleaning solutions such as backpack HEPA vacuum cleaners, microfiber mops and dusters and bucketless mops. The cleaning personnel have received special training to ensure compliance with the established green procedures and standards. United Services staff is also working closely with the building’s recycling committee. A key element is United Services’ commitment to routine follow-up, including nightly and biweekly green and safety walk-throughs of the building.

“We are proud to be part of the team supporting the unique facility at 800 Long Ridge Road, and we’re doing our best to go above and beyond expectations,” says Michael Diamond, co-owner of United Services. “It’s an honor for us to contribute to such advanced green efforts by GE and Building and Land Technology, both of which are clearly leaders in this arena.”

In its role as property owner and manager, BLT is also contributing to the pursuit of the LEED Gold CI Certification, following GE’s lead on the mission.

“Building and Land Technology is committed to providing our best green resources and practices to help our tenant, GE Energy Financial Services, implement and maintain LEED Gold CI Certification,” says property manager Steven Werner. “Our green initiatives for both recycling and sustainability are proven operating procedures that create a healthy office environment for GE and other existing tenants.”

In cooperation with GE, United Services and other vendors, BLT manages the building’s trash hauling, recycling and hazardous waste programs. The real estate development company facilitates the separation and recycling of materials such as paper, cardboard, bottles and cans and ensures proper handling and removal of hazardous waste materials, such as batteries and lightbulbs. BLT established priority parking spaces for hybrid vehicles, worked with a paper supplier to ensure all paper products meet LEED Gold CI standards, and installed sensor faucets and toilets throughout the building to reduce water waste. All lighting, mechanicals and other materials and systems—carpets, windows, HVAC—are highly efficient, reduce electrical consumption and maintain high levels of interior air quality. In addition, BLT is working with GE to formulate a green landscape program.

Michael Diamond is president of Premier Maintenance, Inc. The corporate office is located in Milford, CT. He can be reached at mdiamond@ pmiclean.com.

Susan C. Minichiello is a freelance public relations and media relations specialist with Ellis Strategies, Inc. She can be reached at sue@ellisstrategies. com.

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