My father was a government contractor for the better part of 20 years. Most of what he purchased was top secret and, frankly, I wouldn’t have understood if he could have talked about them. But one thing I do remember is the innovation that shaped his job. It seemed he always was in work groups to determine the best way to pen a contract, or in classes to learn the latest purchasing requirements or negotiating strategies that would benefit the organizations he worked for.

Most often the trends he talked about filtered into the “real” world months or years later. What my father and his colleagues were doing was setting business trends. Once the full force of the military or other federal agencies came out in favor of something, it wasn’t long before industries learned from the government’s lessons.

That’s why, when I was discussing the proliferation of federal green cleaning contractors with industry consultant Steven Ashkin a few months ago, I began to wonder how soon it would be until commercial buildings started making a similar move.

It didn’t take long to find out. As soon as writer Kristine Hansen started interviewing people for our cover story “Navigating Green” she was inundated with examples of environmentally friendly cleaning programs from across the country.

While still a largely governmental trend, green cleaning is becoming common at local, state and federal levels, and some key developments are bringing it to commercial and institutional markets as well.

This month we don’t want to change your views on social responsibility and the environment. But we do want to alert you to the growing numbers of contracts currently out to bid, requiring very specific green cleaning products and services. All it takes is the ability to handle a few of these accounts and you may have a great diversifying angle to take to the rest of your customers. Especially since many of the people Hansen spoke to reported significant savings that would interest even the most environmentally unfriendly of clients.