Our mission is to promote the use of environmentally preferred cleaning products by all state agencies as well as environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products by all school districts in New York State to help protect human health and the environment without sacrificing product effectiveness.
The Environmental Services Unit (ESU) is an office within the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) responsible for the implementation of Chapter 584 of the Laws of 2005 - The New York State Green Cleaning Law - requiring all New York State public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools use environmentally-sensitive (green) cleaning and maintenance products.
The purpose of the Green Cleaning Law was "to reduce as much as possible exposures of children and school district staff to potentially harmful chemicals and substances used in the cleaning and maintenance of schools." ESU's main focus is the cleanliness of indoor environments and the health of individuals. Apropos to this is finding products that clean effectively by removing as much soil, germs and allergens as possible, and are minimally harmful to people and the environment. Therefore, the development of OGS Green Cleaning Guidelines and Specifications (Guidelines) document and the OGS Approved Green Cleaning Product List (List) requires the need to balance cleanliness with health and the environment. Any changes or updates made to the Guidelines and List are done with the view of better protecting the health of children, janitorial staff, employees and visitors within public state buildings and schools, as well as the environment.
See below for background information on the development of the 2006 Guidelines.
2006 Guidelines Document Background
The OGS Green Cleaning Guidelines and Specifications (Guidelines) for the use of green cleaning products in New York State schools were posted in July 2006. In consultation with the State Education Department (SED), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), OGS reviewed and evaluated existing research regarding environmentally-sensitive cleaning and maintenance products.
OGS talked with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, other states, consultants, vendors, environmental groups, chemical manufactures, testing laboratories, and concerned citizens concerning all aspects of green cleaning. In addition, OGS posted the PROPOSED GUIDELINES AND SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PROCUREMENT AND USE OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE PRODUCTS FOR ALL PUBLIC AND NONPUBLIC ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK STATE for comment on our website, provided notice on the public register, and sent copies to over 7,000 vendors on the OGS vendor list. OGS received 208 letters and comments, which were organized into 54 categories. The letters and comments were reviewed and responded to. In some instances, the comments led to changes in the Guidelines. The 2006 Guidelines document was developed with the recognition and understanding that it would act as a catalyst for the study and advancement of green cleaning, and changes in products and their availability. In fact, the marketplace has continued to adapt over time as knowledge improves, or new or modified products become available.
Product applications are better understood through research, usage and observation. Keeping this in mind, OGS issued the 2006 Guidelines document with the intention of setting a high standard for schools, state agencies and public authorities to work towards, while continuing to review and evaluate new information to make the Guidelines even more health and environmentally-sensitive in the future.