‘LEED’ing the Way
Dated: 21-06-2016

Last year, the UAE was named as one of the top ten markets for green building space by the US Green Building Council. At that time the UAE was declared to have the eighth-largest stock of LEED-certified buildings outside the US at 3.1 million sq. m. and 990 projects. This year, the number has certainly grown. Clean Middle East spoke to the Emirates Green Building Council and three LEED-certified buildings in the UAE to understand the role of cleaning and hygiene in maintaining any facility’s LEED certification.

We start off with an interview with Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of Emirates Green Building Council.

What are the various green standards that any LEED building in the UAE must follow to maintain its LEED certification?

There is a comprehensive set of standards related to the maintenance of operating/existing buildings to uphold their LEED certification status. These guidelines cover aspects including water and energy efficiency, indoor air quality, waste management, and building systems management, among others. They vary based on the function of the building and its end-user profile – such as for hospitals, schools, and hotels, amongst others. The criteria must be followed by any building to be awarded with and maintain its Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-Existing Buildings – Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM) certification.

How important is cleaning and hygiene in this context?

By definition, cleaning and hygiene is critical to maintain facilities long term and thus ensure the health and comfort of the end-users. There are specified guidelines in this context in the LEED EBOM, which includes, for instance, credits for using green cleaning products and materials, cleaning equipment and storage. In line with LEED standards, building operators can implement and follow a green cleaning policy to secure green cleaning credits.

What kind of cleaning materials, products and equipment are recommended by EmiratesGBC?

There are several brands of cleaning products available in the UAE that have non-harmful chemicals and hold eco-certifications and cover all types of cleaning. They also provide training and guidance. It is important to review the credentials, certificates and experience of the cleaning and maintenance companies that are hired to do the job; they need to understand the property’s policies and engagements towards sustainability. For pest-related issues, it is critical to refer to professionals who are officially accredited and licensed by concerned authorities.

What do you recommend should be the various practices to ensure employee awareness of the eco-friendly cleaning and hygiene practices in the building?

First, it is important to ensure that all employees are fully aligned with the green policies for the building. This means conducting training sessions, putting up reminders on green best practices and driving the continuous support and involvement of the employees.

Tenants and cleaners should also consider using natural products as alternatives to chemical-based cleaning products. Professionals in charge of cleaning and hygiene should be continuously trained on best practices. The information must trickle down to every employee/resident through signage and communications tools such as newsletters and emailers urging them to report issues such as leakages and obnoxious odours. A well-structured, preventive maintenance plan must also be put in place and include aspects such as cleaning of façades, ventilation and the quality of water-related equipment.

Give us an idea of the EHS standards that are considered in any LEED building for cleaning and hygiene.

The LEED EBOM manual provides guidance regarding EHS requirements, which vary according to the buildings function and operations. Hotels, for example, generally have an environmental policy, preventive maintenance plan and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that cover all aspects of cleaning and hygiene. They also need to comply with strict regulations and standards on EHS set by the local authorities in order to be licensed and authorised to operate.

Through EmiratesGBC’s various events and networking sessions, we provide building operators and owners with suggestions to improve their building’s performance. For instance, we recently organised a workshop with DEWA on the impact of Volatile Organic Compounds on indoor air quality, which is a critical component for existing buildings and a healthy indoor environment. We also recommend that building owners, tenants and facility management companies refer to our Technical Guidelines for Retrofitting Existing Buildings, which provide hands-on solutions to achieve sustainable, healthy and comfortable buildings...

Project: LadyBird Early Learning Centre
Certification: LEED Gold Certification

“A school environment requires special care when it comes to cleaning and hygiene, even more so when younger children are involved. We have designed our green cleaning policy based on the building systems, components and materials used and the cleaning and hygiene standard we aim to achieve,” says Monica Valrani, CEO, Ladybird Nursery & Early Learning Centre. She continues, “We have outlined the overall procedures, performance metrics, training and awareness strategy for our staff as well as facilities maintenance service provider.”

Green standards

Ladybird Early Learning Centre focuses on 6 areas – sustainable site, water conservation, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environment quality and innovation in design.

  • Stormwater design
  • Low VOC content 25% of construction material is recycled
  • Flow rates on sanitary ware meet LEED standards
  • Post construction - 600 hours of fresh air blowing in an unoccupied building continuously to ensure IAQ is optimum
  • Opening of the windows automatically switches off the air conditioning
  • All classrooms have energy efficient fans (imported from the US)

Materials, products & equipment used

Overall, the core concept of our cleaning strategy is to maximise operational efficiency while minimising environmental impact. We use sustainable consumables and equipment. Green Seal environmental standards clearly outline the considerations when it comes to selecting the right cleaning products, from disinfectants to carpet and floor cleaning, metal polish, janitorial paper and trash bags, pest control, swimming pools and external façade cleaning. Safe handling, harmless to occupants and environment are the utmost priority here. The same standards also outline the selection methodology when it comes to powered cleaning equipment used in the property. More specifically criteria pertain to their deep cleaning capacity, allowed sound level, efficiency level, CO2 emissions, battery, make environmental friendliness and user fatigue.

Ensuring employee awareness

We have built an ‘awareness framework’ that is originated within and driven by our green cleaning policy. The framework is multilayered and addresses the educational needs, their implementation plan in the length of time, the control & monitoring mechanisms that will make it sustainable and effective.

Systems are only as good as the people who operate them and in a context where so many different parties affect its performance, a strong enabling culture is vital to its success. We have designed the framework with that concept in mind, making sure that the audience spans throughout the stakeholders network of our school. The parents, teaching staff, students, maintenance team and visitors all play a key role in our mission...

Project: Panasonic Marketing Middle East FZE
Certification: LEED EBOM Silver Certification – V3 Rating System

Panasonic HQ (PMMAF) has taken various initiatives to reduce negative environmental impact through its operations. “We aim to reduce operating costs, enhance building occupant comfort and welfare, and produce lesser waste. We are a JAFZA company, and our EHS standards are in line with JAFZA/TRAKHEES standards,” says Honey Sanadhya - PR Manager, Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa.

Materials, products & equipment used

  • Recently switched to a water purification system, that eliminates the use of the large plastic bottles.
  • Paper recycling boxes at the printing stations, which are picked up weekly by Imdaad and recycled.
  • Lights are LED-power saving and installed with occupancy sensors. Energy Recovery Ventilators installed for further energy saving
  • Switched to toilet paper dispensers instead of using toilet rolls - the dispenser allows for the user to only use what is needed, and no carton roll area is required and the tissue paper is folded. Use ISO-certified hygiene consumable supplier (toilet paper, hand soap etc.).

Importance of cleaning and hygiene

  • Installed hand sanitiser dispensers at various areas in the office.
  • Try to use cleaning chemicals that are not too harsh on the environment when disposed off.
  • Changed the entrance of the smoking room - previously it was from within the office and smoke leaked throughout the office. Now, the entrance to the smoking room has been changed to the outside of the building.

Ensuring employee awareness

We ensure timely communication and reminders for our employee awareness through notifications VIA posters in various areas of our office and emails. Currently, we are planning to organise personal and office hygiene workshops...

Project: Rosewood Hotel Abu Dhabi
Certification: LEED Gold Certification

Green standards

  • HVAC system is run at optimum level with timers to avoid energy wastage.
  • Heat recovery systems aid in maximizing the use of conditioned air, while allowing sufficient
  • outdoor air to be available for user comfort.
  • Separate recycle bins for collection of used paper, bottles, cans, plastics on all
  • floors with all possible recyclable waste sent for recycling.
  • Lighting control systems are installed with occupancy sensors and dimming controls to maximize energy efficiency.
  • Most of the incandescent light bulbs inside the building are replaced with LED light bulbs.
  • All critical high pressure plumbing piping and joints are being replaced with high quality HDPE pipes to avoid frequent water leaks.
  • Water savers installed in all public area toilets which effectively saves more than 50% of water.

Materials, products & equipment used

  • Eco-friendly products (soaps, shampoos, etc.) for guest bathrooms, spa locker rooms, public restrooms and employee bathrooms.
  • We use chemical concentrates with appropriate dilution to minimize chemical use wherever possible in cleaning.
  • Washable towels in locker room and hand dryers.
  • Amenity dispensers installed in spa and employee locker room showers

Ensuring employee awareness

  • Training to all new associates on personal hygiene and grooming standards during probation.
  • Verdes presentation (Value Earth’s Resources and Demonstrate Environmental Sensitivity Rosewood Hotel green initiatives program) in the employee orientation program to educate all new associates on green initiatives and practices.
  • Regular in-house audits/walkthrough to ensure all required hygiene practices are being followed. Reports are forwarded to the concerned department heads and discussed in hygiene meetings.
  • ousekeeping associates are trained in MSDS by our cleaning chemicals supplier, which includes awareness on practices adhering to LEED certification.

EHS standards

  • Implemented 100% non-smoking policy inside our hotel guestrooms and all other interior spaces.
  • Kitchen ducts installed with ecology units & green duct system, which efficiently exhaust contaminated air from kitchen hood, helps remove mal-odour and reduces fire hazards.
  • Main tank testing done every quarter for legionella and micro biology. Water tank cleaning done every six months.
  • Air handling units filters replaced quarterly.
  • All guest rooms undergo complete preventive maintenance every six months.
  • Sump pit cleaning done every six months and grease trap cleaning done every 45 days.
  • All our kitchens are equipped with dosing system for drain lines, which helps in grease eradication.
  • Quarterly maintenance of fire-fighting systems in our property.
  • Pool water pH and chlorine level tested daily.