Green checkmark certified

Contributed by The Ashkin Group

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is revising its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System, introducing new prerequisites that will apply to buildings seeking certification and the cleaning contractors that clean these facilities. This is according to Steve Ashkin, a former board member at the USGBC and the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for sustainability.

Current board members will vote on these new prerequisites and related issues, with their decisions made public in late September 2023, at the International Greenbuild Conference in Washington, D.C.

Among the prerequisites and requirements LEED is concentrating on include the following:

• Redirecting LEED’s emphasis from certifying new construction to certifying pre-existing buildings.

• Increasing the number of credits (points) from one to three that can be earned by facilities using green cleaning methods and products. “This indicates the importance LEED puts on green cleaning,” says Ashkin.

• Addressing climate change issues, helping facilities reduce their negative impacts on the environment, and become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

• Focus more on social equity issues such as quality of life issues and improved living standards for cleaning workers.

So, we are clear, prerequisites are requirements that a facility must meet before it can begin the LEED certification process. A perfect example is ensuring that green cleaning products are already being used in a facility.

“When it comes to equity, my focus is on fairness and justice for cleaning workers and their well-being,” adds Ashkin. “I want to see cleaning workers — in fact our entire industry — be more respected and valued.”

Ashkin adds that while most contract cleaning companies are beginning to address equity issues, “too many are still involved in illegal contracting, paying workers under the table, and even hiring child workers. This is bad for [our] workers and the entire cleaning industry.”

Ashkin adds that once the prerequisites have been voted on and are in place, their impact will stretch beyond building owners and managers.

“LEED is looking at the total picture,” adds Ashkin. “There can be no missing links, and this includes how a facility is cleaned and maintained.”