Did you know that Chicago’s Mayor Daley is committed to making Chicago the “greenest city in America?”

Chicago, like many other cities, has increased its commitment to green buildings, which has accelerated the demand for green-cleaning services in the region.

Thus, this year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN® convention and trade show in Chicago can be a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about the green-cleaning movement, whether you’re building your new green program or improving an existing one. I recommend that you consider the following:

  1. Make Educational Opportunities A Priority. This year’s show will have many valuable educational opportunities pertaining to green cleaning that you shouldn’t miss. I recommend that you build your schedule around presentations on the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Program, EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program, Green Seal, Healthy Schools Campaign, and of course, I hope you’ll attend my sessions on Thursday, October 5.

  2. Look For Certified Products. Determining what makes a product green can be exceedingly complicated and time consuming. Third-party organizations have developed a number of green-product standards, and they certify products that meet those standards. This makes purchasing green products easy and will allow you to market your program with confidence. Many current green-product categories include chemicals, paper, and equipment including vacuums and extractors.

  3. Other Products. Currently there are no third-party standards in many product categories, so here are a couple of things for you to keep in mind:
    • Define Green. Ask exhibitors how their products reduce impacts on health and the environment compared to traditional products. Remember, a new product that cleans better, faster or cheaper makes it a great new product. But not all great products are green unless they specifically reduce health and environmental impacts.

    • Document Claims. Ask the exhibitor to provide test data to document their claims. Responsible companies do scientific testing prior to making claims about health and the environment; furthermore, they are required to do so by the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. Training. Talk to exhibitors about their training programs and whether they specifically offer green-standard operating procedures. Also, determine if the programs are in the language of your workers and if they will provide hands-on training since many people don’t learn well by reading books or watching videos.

  5. Marketing And Communications. Talk to exhibitors about what they can do to help you market and sell your program. Some exhibitors even offer programs on the USGBC’s LEED-EB Rating System, which could be very valuable to you.

This year’s ISSA show can be a good opportunity to green your programs and improve your bottom line.

Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a nationally renowned consulting firm helping both contractors and building owners “green” the cleaning process.