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Sustainability Beyond Green Cleaning: A comprehensive program should address the three pillars of sustainability

Last updated 5 years ago

A comprehensive program should address the three pillars of sustainability.

Green cleaning, especially over the past decade, has evolved to include more sophisticated products, tools and processes.

It has captured the attention of building owners, visitors and occupants, all of whom see the benefits of cleaning programs that minimize the impact on human health and the environment.

To be effective, green cleaning programs require planning and attention.

This is why ISSA has included a Green Buildings component in its Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) called CIMS-GB.

CIMS-GB not only addresses the critical elements of a green cleaning program, including products, processes and performance; the Standard also is designed to fit neatly into an organization’s overall sustainability program.

This is because green cleaning is an integral element of sustainability.

Regardless of the type or size of the organization, having a comprehensive cleaning program that stems from its overall sustainability goals is essential to helping the organization meet them.

Defining Sustainability

The most widely cited and accepted definition for sustainability comes from the Brundtland Report in 1987: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability has been further defined to include the “triple bottom line” or three pillars of sustainability: People, planet and profit.

Given the definition of sustainability, it is reasonable to expect that a comprehensive green cleaning program should encompass not only environmental considerations, but also social and economic considerations as well.

It is common for people to think that a green cleaning program primarily involves the use of environmentally preferable products, equipment and materials.

However, while the use of green products is imperative — and also required under CIMS-GB — a comprehensive program involves much more than products.


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Dave Frank is a 30-year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS). AICS is the registrar for ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) certification program.


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