Going green in the restaurant involves many different transitions. Taking steps to green a building makes a difference for the environment, from the type of toilets in the restrooms to the type of lighting on the ceilings. Another measure used to green your commercial establishment is to avoid using products made with volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
Called “organic” because they are typically carbon based molecules, VOCs are potentially harmful gas emissions from certain liquid and solid materials. Although common VOCs like methane gas exist mainly outdoors, the EPA has found levels of approximately twelve different types of polluting VOCs to be 2 to 5 times higher indoors as opposed to outside. Just a handful of emissions sources are listed below:
- Building materials and furnishings
- Cleaning agents
- Glues and adhesives
- Office equipment
- Paint stripper
- Permanent markers
- Photographic solutions
Top Five Tips to Lower VOC Emissions
By lowering or eliminating the occurrence of VOCs in your establishment, particularly related to paints and cleaners, you are taking steps toward a healthier environment and a cleaner atmosphere. Use the tips below as guidelines for decreasing the VOC emissions in your building:
- Eliminate high VOC products. . Phase out the use of products with carcinogens, toxins, hazardous air pollutants or ozone-depleting chemicals in your commercial establishment. Use green cleaning products and eco-friendly paint instead.
- Use eco-friendly alternatives. Instead of using products with known VOC components, go with green products and green cleaners. Try water-based glues, adhesives and finishes, and select soy-based foams. Choose eco-friendly interior latex paints with low or no VOCs.
- Buy in small quantities. Purchase products you will use immediately so nothing is left over. Stored products may leak fumes that cause potential harm or irritation. It is best to use it all and then dispose of the containers.
- Properly ventilate the area. Provide lots of fresh air or ventilation to any areas that may be at increased risk of VOC emissions. This is especially true while using cleaning agents or during and after interior painting.
- Always read manufacturers’ directions. All potentially dangerous products have warnings to reduce exposure or harm to the consumer. The more you know about the products you use, the more you can avoid harmful emissions.