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.
Green cleaning has either reached your region or it will soon. And within the movement, there are leaders and there are laggards. Which one are you?

The challenge, from a business perspective, is to understand where your region stands and how to develop an appropriate plan of action.

The coasts, as usual, are exhibiting their pioneering spirit. In many respects, the keen-for-green states are Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts on the East Coast and California, Oregon and Washington State on the West Coast. If you work in these states, you likely have experienced an accelerating level of interest in green cleaning. But even these gung-ho states are only at the 200-yard mark in a 26.2-mile marathon. For example, California’s inland agricultural areas resemble a Midwest farm area more than they do green cleaning leaders such as San Francisco or Santa Monica. So there’s still time for you to train, enter the race, and move into the lead — but start now.

Those of you living in locations that lag — the Southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama, and Oklahoma or the Midwest — don’t fall farther behind. Even though movement here is slower, some states are beginning to lean towards green cleaning. For example, Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley aims to make Chicago the “greenest city in America,” and green cleaning is one of the four planks of his “Chicago Standard.” Also, Racine County in Wisconsin became the first community to launch green initiatives.

It seems that where green cleaning has taken root, it spreads to surrounding areas. Green cleaning has grown outside of Chicago to encompass the entire state: Illinois recently became the second state, after New York, to pass legislation requiring schools to use green cleaning.

If you act quickly, you can take advantage of the slower pace and make a name for yourself as a trailblazer. Promote green cleaning and help get these areas up to speed.

Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rules. University towns, for instance, have generally been aggressive about green cleaning. For example, in Atlanta, a high concentration of universities has embraced green cleaning, while most of Georgia has done little in the way of green.

Also, many state capitals lead the way in their regions. Austin, Texas, for example, has long been a leader in green building even though much of the rest of the state lags.

In every part of the country there are pockets of green cleaning. Eventually, green will spread to all corners of the U.S. Get started now if you haven’t already done so. Be a leader, not a laggard.