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.
2007 was an incredible year for the “Green Cleaning Movement” as we began to solidify the demand from customers for green products and services. For example, there was tremendous growth in green programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating Systems. There are now more than 10,000 buildings registered or certified in the various LEED Rating Systems.

There has also been a growing emphasis on green from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), as well as a multitude of organizations focusing on greening educational, healthcare, retail and hospitality facilities.

In addition, green became a common theme in 2007 among public building owners, which led to the passage of legislation on green cleaning in the state of Illinois. More states are anticipated to follow. Additionally, major private building owners such as Wal-Mart, General Electric and Bank of America, and property managers such as Cushman & Wakefield and CB Richard Ellis expanded their green programs.

Also in 2007, we saw the geographical expansion of green cleaning. Up until this year, green cleaning was largely a coastal issue, but now there are undeniable signs of adoption throughout the rest of the country. Green building initiatives have hit the big time in places like Chicago, Grand Rapids, Mich., Austin, Texas, and the list can go on. Today over 100 cities have green building initiatives.

Perhaps the most important event in 2007 was the inclusion of a new credit in LEED-EB to measure custodial effectiveness and to reward more cleaning. Please, for just a moment, think about this — not only would more cleaning improve occupant health and performance, but it will increase your sales and profits!

This article, however, isn’t just a celebration of 2007 successes. Rather, it is to encourage those of you who haven’t yet seen the demand for green cleaning in your marketplace to begin the journey in 2008. To do this you can:
  • Get further educated on “green” by attending conferences and reading articles and books;
  • Talk to your vendors and identify opportunities to green your products, and;
  • Identify changes from a process or cleaning system perspective.

For those of you who have already begun your journey, 2008 should be a time to begin the next steps, such as:

  • Talk to your vendors to test and implement new and “greener” products;
  • Further improve cleaning processes to reduce impacts on health and the environment;
  • Consider getting your company green certified, and;
  • Commit to becoming a green organization: reduce the environmental impacts from your operations, buildings, vehicles, etc., and get your building LEED certified.