We really appreciate Green Cleaning Seattle’s generous support of the tour. Winners of the 2014 Western Washington Business of the Year Award, Green Cleaning Seattle started with a small budget but a clear vision. Their commitment to sustainability goes beyond the green service they provide. We admire how much they’ve done to create a healthy, eco-friendly, and community-oriented workspace.
We asked them what it took to convert a 1914 craftsman home into an uber-green office space that is truly an inspiration to their neighbors and wider community. They shared these ten steps they’ve taken that are all guided by one principle: “Work with what you’ve got.”
Step 1 - Go Solar!: One of the first things they did was to install a 2.16 kW solar energy system on the south-facing side of their office. The panels produce enough power to cover their office energy needs when averaged over the course of a year.
Step 2 - Purchase Green, Energy-efficient Appliances: GCS chose a hybrid water heater and Energy Star washers and dryers. As a green company they reuse their towels so they do a lot of laundry.
Step 3 - Create a Permaculture Site Map: Either hire a landscaper with Permaculture design training or take a Permaculture design course yourself. It will change the way you think about function, design, and plants. GCS did both.
Step 4 - Pick Perennial, Edible, Soil-Healing Plants: Plants can be both beautiful and useful. The plants they chose for their office grounds fix nitrogen in the soil, dynamically accumulate nutrients, attract pollinators, and help with noise and pollution reduction. GCS can eat most of what grows on their land.
Step 5 - Tell your Cement Driveway Bye Bye: GCS replaced the old cement driveway with permeable pavers to reduce runoff into storm drains.
Step 6 - Throw a Parking Strip Replanting Party: Green Cleaning Seattle planted their right-of-way parking strip with a variety of drought-tolerant, pollinator-attracting plants. Planting your parking strip can be a fun, civic-minded, community-building summer project.
Step 7 - Install Rainwater Catchment: GCS installed a 1,320-gallon cistern to catch rain off their roof. The water is used for watering their plants.
Step 8 - Build a Rain Garden: They made a rain garden in their back yard. A rain garden is a landscaped, shallow depression with specific soil mixes and plants that help to collect, absorb, and filter storm water runoff. A rain garden temporarily and intentionally ponds after it rains. Due to the Northwest’s rainfall pattern, many places in our city have to deal with storm water overflow problems. Rain gardens can be part of the solution.
Step 9 - Boldly Implement a Laundry-to-Landscape System: Green Cleaning Seattle is the first business in Seattle to have a gray water system. When they do towel laundry, the water is used to water plants and edible berry bushes on the north side of the office.
Step 10 - Welcome the Chickens!: GCS is a fun place to work. Their office has pet chickens that arrived this year. The coop is in the backyard. GCS staff are looking forward to eating fresh omelets soon.
About Green Cleaning Seattle - not your ordinary house cleaning company
From a cell phone and a budget of $40 in 2008 to a staff of 41 people and over 1,000 cleaning clients in 2015, Green Cleaning Seattle continues to evolve. At Green Cleaning Seattle, we continuously ask ourselves: “What does it mean to be Green?” From our hybrid vehicles, solar panels, cistern, grey water system, chicken coop, to our planted parking strip, our business is built on the simple belief that seemingly small choices can have a huge ripple effect for good in our lives and our world. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, from the products we use, to the business practices we employ, to the community we cultivate, to the way we have designed our workspace.