There’s an old proverb that that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it rings true even when it comes to your commercial building’s entrances. Keeping your entrances clean and safe depends on much more than just your floors – everything from the right plantings and vegetation, to programs designed to keep sidewalks and parking lots clean, to placing sufficient entrance matting indoors and out can prevent dirt from coming inside. Some companies even scrub their parking lots regularly to remove oil and grease that cars can leave behind to keep them from being tracked in! It’s much easier to clean grease while it’s still outside your building – anything you can do to present less dirt at the doorway makes it all the better!
The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED IEQ Credit 3.5: Green Cleaning – Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control recommends using low-maintenance vegetation within you building’s landscape design, and explicitly avoiding plants that produce fruit, flowers, or leaves that might be tracked into the building. To further help reduce debris being tracked inside, many building maintenance plans find regular sidewalk / walkway sweeping and pressure washing outside the building to be extremely useful and cost-effective. LEED IEQ Credit 3.5 underscores these benefits, recommending facilities install a water spigot and properly-grounded electrical outlet at each major entrance to facilitate proper maintenance and cleaning.
LEED also requires facilities to incorporate walk-off mats into entryway care. LEED guidelines promote installing footgrilles like C/S Pedimats at least 10 feet long in the primary direction of travel to capture soil, dirt, and debris that might otherwise come into the building on visitors’ shoes. Where a recessed footgrille system like Pedimats aren’t practical, heavy-duty walk-off matting like Grizzly FX will do the job.
While these guidelines define the minimum acceptable standards for LEED compliance, taking your entrance matting regime a step further only helps things even more. We recommend placing 12 – 15 feet of dryer/scraper entrance matting inside your entrance, and another 10 feet of scraper matting outside the entrance to capture 80 – 90% of the dirt on people’s shoes. Matting must follow the traffic pattern of the people coming in or it won’t be effective – matting only works when people walk on it! People need to take a minimum of 4 to 5 steps on a mat for it to be of any use in cleaning feet, and this is where custom-shapes and angles for your matting can make the difference between effective cleaning and wasted time.
Long, narrow runner mats almost never offer the best protection. Unless your main entrance opens into a hallway or other confined space, foot traffic tends to spreads out as people head in a straight line towards their destination. Larger mats cover more surface area and provide enough room for individuals to take the recommended four to five steps before walking off, even when cutting diagonally across a large lobby area. If people would just stop and wipe their feet, you’d only need a 3×5 foot mat, but nobody does that – they just walk in!
Matting should be used 12 months a year – LEED guidelines aren’t specific to the season. Many buildings only put matting out in the winter, but dirt comes in year round!