The upcoming ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show in Orlando, Fla., from Nov. 9 to 12 offers building service contractors plenty of access to green cleaning information and products. One of the most important opportunities to learn more about green cleaning will be the wide array of educational programs during the pre-trade show educational conference as well as on the trade show floor itself.

Some of the programs to consider include:

  • Green Cleaning Fundamentals: Overcoming Confusion and Getting Down to Business (Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1:30 p.m.)
  • Green Marketing in the Age of Transparency (Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2:45 p.m.)
  • The Future of Green...Where are we going? (Tuesday, Nov. 9, 4 p.m.)
  • The Global State of Sustainability (Wednesday, Nov. 10, 11 a.m.)

And programs in the Education Theatre, which take place on the trade show floor at booth 4175, include:

  • The Future of Comparing Green Cleaning Products (Wednesday, Nov. 10, 12:10 p.m.)
  • Green to Gold: Practical Interpretation and Implementation of LEED Requirements in Professional Cleaning Operations (Thursday, Nov. 11, 1:20 p.m.)
  • ISSA Green Cleaning University Releases New Classes (Thursday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m.)

In addition the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) will be offering contractor specific programs during its co-located convention, Nov. 11 to 13.

To find green on the trade show floor start in the Green Pavilion in the 1300 and 1400 aisles where there are lots of "green" companies, standard setters and certifiers, nonprofits and more. Be sure to stop by booth 1442 to see my new company, Sustainability Dashboard Tools.

When walking the trade show floor, expect an array of new green products as manufacturers increase their investment in greener technologies. To help avoid the possibility of greenwashing (misleading environmental claims) ask questions to make informed decisions.

First, ask, "Is the product certified by a third party?" Using credible third-parties like Green Seal, EPA, Underwriters Laboratories (which recently acquired the EcoLogo Program), Carpet & Rug Institute, TURI and others makes it easier to buy with confidence.

If the manufacturer does not use an independent third-party, then ask them to define what makes the product green and to provide the test data demonstrating that it has been tested to meet health, environmental, performance and other criterion.

When a product claims to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements, ask to see the specific credit language. Be especially cautious with claims that the product contributes "up to X points" because most credits in LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) require a combination of products to achieve even a single point. And while a product may contribute to the possibility of achieving a point in a number of credits, this is not the same as actually achieving X points by just buying that product.

When exhibitors claims their products are "new" or "breakthroughs," inquire about what makes them green. And simply apply the basic definition of green, which requires a product to reduce the health and environmental impacts compared to similar products. Ask them define what they are comparing their product to and for the test data that demonstrates that their technology really is green.

When looking for things that truly are new, look for products that reduce consumption. This can include those that not only reduce chemical usage, but might also reduce energy, water, waste, transportation, packaging and materials of all kinds, as well as those that are more durable and of higher quality.

Finally, do not miss the opportunity to learn about some of the programs that ISSA is offering including Green Cleaning University, Cleaning Industry Management Standard for Green Buildings (CIMS-GB) and the new information-based environmental label. It's sure to be a terrific conference and I hope to see you there.

Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group and executive director of the Green Cleaning Network. He will be speaking at ISSA/INTERCLEAN in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 9. His seminar, "Green Cleaning Fundamentals" is sponsored by Contracting Profits. He can be reached at