By Stephen Ashkin

Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a nationally renowned consulting firm helping both contractors and building owners “green” the cleaning process.
I hope you will attend this year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America trade show and convention in Orlando, Fla. (running from Oct. 23 to 26), which promises to bubble over with innovative products from some 650 green cleaning vendors from throughout the world. But more than that, it will also provide you with respite from your workday schedule to immerse yourself in learning from experts how to move beyond simply using green products to offering customers a holistic green cleaning program that truly improves the effectiveness of your cleaning services.

As green cleaning has evolved, it’s become clear that cleaning to promote better health and a healthier planet depends on more than the products you use. Yes, green cleaning products continually improve. But their effectiveness is inexorably linked to the equipment and processes you choose and the training you receive and provide to employees. Marketplace success is also linked to how you communicate the benefits of green cleaning to current and future customers, helping green go mainstream and benefiting both your bottom line and theirs.

On the trade show floor, look for chemical manufacturers moving to the next level with cleaners made from bio-based ingredients. And look for tools and equipment that are durable, ergonomically correct, consume as little energy as possible and reduce emissions. If you’re using the latest green products with old-fashioned tools, you’re compromising your competitiveness in this rapidly expanding market. In addition, talk to exhibitors about training and communications issues.

Before the show, take a good look at your company and your own operations. Are you up on the best ways to use green chemicals, procedures and equipment? Have you effectively taught your employees? Are you keeping current so your training remains relevant? And are you communicating your company’s expertise to potential and regular customers? You will be able to answer all these questions and more by chatting with exhibitors and peers on the trade show floor or by sitting in on a seminar. I recommend attending “Green To Gold” presented by Andrew Winston, co-author of the book by the same name. And of course I hope you’ll attend my seminar, “Beyond Green Cleaning.”

Communications and marketing are vital to your success, and more selflessly, to spreading the green gospel for the sake of building occupants, cleaning personnel and the environment. Many contractors have clued into green chemicals, so look for exhibitors that provide value-added services to help you differentiate yourself through newsletters, stickers, standard operating procedures and information on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and other green programs.

There’s a lot of “green” to see at ISSA/INTERCLEAN® this year, so plan ahead and budget your time accordingly.