DAVIE, FLORIDA, USA - JULY 27, 2018: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold level certification sign inside building

Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, recently released a short 7-minute video from his presentation at the recent NET ZERO conference.  

This was the first NET ZERO in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic, and sponsors of the event indicated the number of people attending, online or in person, far exceeded their expectations. 

“This is likely because climate change is no longer some ‘far in the future’ phenomenon nor is their still debate about the science,” says Ashkin. 

“This summer, we experienced it front and center. Now, governments, corporations, and citizens alike are looking for ways to address climate change challenges.”

As part of the Net Zero Conference, the U.S. Green Building Council provided a panel discussion that addressed its six LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Safety First pilot credits.

These credits outline sustainable best practices related to HVAC and plumbing operations, cleaning and disinfecting, workplace re-occupancy, and pandemic preparedness and response.

These also suggest how reducing energy and water consumption when cleaning can contribute to a building’s efforts towards Net Zero. 

According to Ashkin, the following are the key components of the new Safety First Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space pilot credit.  

Product Selection  

• Cleaning products and processes must meet CDC, EPA, OSHA, and WHO guidelines.

• The products and processes must be designed to protect the health of cleaning workers.

• Disinfectants selected must be on the EPA’s List-N using the least hazardous active ingredients identified by EPA’s Design for the Environment program.

• Other cleaning products and supplies must meet the requirements as found in LEED Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings’ Green Cleaning credit.

In his presentation, Ashkin also discussed cleaning and disinfecting procedures that must be followed per the new credit. These include:

• Identifying all high-touch / high-risk surfaces in a facility and determining how often they must be cleaned and disinfected.

• Wearing personal protective equipment when performing cleaning tasks.

• Employing ergonomic cleaning tools and proper training on how to use these tools. “Ergonomic issues continue to be the leading cause of injuries in the professional cleaning industry.”

• Implementing enhanced training, including how frontline cleaning personnel can reduce energy and water consumption.

"It's important to know that a Green Cleaning program can help reduce energy and water consumption, which can also help lower a facility's impact on the environment," says Ashkin. "Fortunately, the industry is taking steps to accomplish this by introducing advanced cleaning equipment that uses less water than older systems or recycle water."  

Ashkin adds that we should also not forget things such as turning off lights in vacant office spaces, vacuuming the coils on vending machines, and refrigeration equipment. 

"These simple steps can reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they reduce energy consumption and save money."

Click here for the Top 10 ranked states for LEED in 2021.