by Brett Van Beever
A regular carpet maintenance program improves a building’s indoor air quality.
The indoor air quality (IAQ) of a building has a major impact on the health and comfort of building occupants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks IAQ as one of the top five environmental health risks of our time, causing an estimated $100 billion to be spent in North America each year on healthcare, absenteeism, lost production time, and weakened revenue.
The EPA also estimates nearly 30% of buildings suffer from poor IAQ. With advanced construction methods creating tighter building envelopes and modern HVAC systems operating on cycles to reduce energy, it is crucial to safeguard the health of building occupants. Along with the use of low-emitting materials and properly functioning HVAC systems, carpet cleaning can improve IAQ and increase productivity by minimizing employee sick days.
Maintaining carpet to create a healthier workplace
Microorganisms, dust mites, allergens, and mold spores have been identified as major contributors to poor IAQ. Carpet acts as a sponge, holding these harmful particles deep in the fibers. To keep IAQ healthy, a maintenance program that cleans carpet on a regular basis is recommended. Routine carpet maintenance reduces the number of particulates and microorganisms, preventing exposure and improving working conditions. Not all maintenance programs are equal though.
Dry cleaning technology is the better option
Cleaning with dry, nontoxic polymers that are gentle on carpet fibers and more efficient at removing soil and dirt is the preferred method for carpet cleaning. Trained technicians assess the carpets and apply a premist to emulsify and suspend particles. Next, dry polymer is applied and agitated into the fibers with specialized equipment. This loosens the dirt and particulates which adhere to the polymer. The dry polymer, along with dirt, pollutants, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are then safely extracted with strong industrial vacuums, eliminating 99% of these harmful particles.
Traditional hot water extraction methods typically shorten the lifespan of the carpet by weakening the carpet fibers and leaving behind detergent residue that further contributes to the accumulation of dirt, allergens, and other harmful particles. Additionally, damp carpet creates a breeding ground for bacteria and microbial growth. It also increases the potential for workplace injuries due to slips and falls from wet floors. Because it requires a longer dry time, it may also result in costly company downtime. Dry cleaning also:
- Reduces carbon footprint. The use of sustainable dry polymers, along with lower demands on electricity and water, makes dry-based carpet cleaning methods an environmentally friendly choice. Wet-based methods require 319% more energy as well as 99.5% more water, requiring 50 gallons of water per 10,000sf of carpet.
- Lowers operating expenses. Dry-based methods have proven to extend the life of the carpet, resulting in less carpet in landfills and reduced operating expenses. With dry-based cleaning, property managers report replacing carpets during an office redesign rather than due to dirty or worn conditions. The tremendous capital savings gained by each additional year of maintaining rather than replacing the carpet could result in thousands of dollars in reduced costs. In most cases, this covers the cost of maintenance over its life cycle.
- Contributes to LEED points. The significant reduction in energy and water consumption of dry-based carpet maintenance programs and the use of sustainable green products can contribute to points in the Indoor Environmental Quality bracket of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Existing Buildings (LEED-EB), which specifies that green cleaning must be practiced in buildings seeking certification and requires a prerequisite green cleaning policy. The Carpet and Rug Institute certifies professionals who operate a safe and effective deep cleaning system and can help qualify for earning LEED-EB points.Sustainable materials are in use at nearly 80% of businesses. However, many fail to realize that the maintenance of these green materials has a great impact on the environment. Caring for carpets with dry polymer-based technology is an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient solution for protecting your building and the health of its occupants
Brett Van Beever is president of ECOlogic, a commercial carpet and textile cleaning and restoration company.