Taking The LEED: These Janitors Are Lean, Green Carbon-Fighting Machines

Taking The LEED: These Janitors Are Lean, Green Carbon-Fighting Machines

December 27, 2018

You know that janitors keep our offices and schools clean, but did you know they’re also crucial for cleaning up our planet?

That’s the thinking behind the Green Janitor Education Program, which Aida Cardenas launched in 2014 to fill a gap in building owners’ efforts to achieve Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for their properties. “Janitors weren’t really part of that conversation,” Cardenas told Capital & Main. But they should be: Janitors often choose what types of chemical and equipment are used to maintain buildings, and added up, those choices are integral to overall “greenness.”

What began as a 120-participant pilot program in Los Angeles has since expanded, with more than 1,000 graduates throughout California. Students spend 30 hours over 15 weeks learning how to clean effectively with environmentally friendly products. Instructors also drive home the importance of fixing leaks to conserve water, sorting recyclables and switching off lights after-hours and unplugging appliances when they’re not in use.

“Building a low carbon economy takes workers and an awful lot of those workers are blue collar workers,” Carol Zabin, director of the Green Economy Program, at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, told Capital & Main. “They are not just engineers and highly technical professionals.”

Read more about Green Janitor Education Program and its graduates here.