Based on recent Sanitary Maintenance surveys, virtually everyone in the industry is selling green products. Whether these offerings meet the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (EBOM) criteria is another question.

If distributors are not selling green products that match LEED requirements they are missing out on a huge opportunity. Since 2008 — the year green cleaning became a prerequisite to LEED-EBOM — more than 5,000 facilities have applied for the certification. These buildings need to be cleaned with green chemicals and equipment, stocked with green paper and soap, and have programs in place that safely dispense chemicals and promote proper hand hygiene.

In addition to the prerequisite, distributors can help earn points toward certification by increasing the number of green supplies and equipment used in the building, as well as implementing matting and integrated indoor pest management programs.

Once distributors master LEED-EBOM guidelines, they can tap into other LEED opportunities. LEED for New Construction (NC) doesn't focus on day-to-day operations, but there is still a place for cleaning — you just need to know where to look. The "Innovation in Design" credits allow for one point to be earned for the creation of a cleaning program that meets EBOM guidelines. Though it's only one point, NC presents another large potential client base for distributors.

Since 2008, more than 12,000 buildings have applied for LEED-NC. And now, the USGBC has launched LEED for Healthcare, which will allow distributors to market products specifically for hospitals, medical offices and other healthcare facilities.

In the last few years, LEED has presented nearly 20,000 opportunities for distributors to sell green products. If your programs aren't up to LEED standards, start changing them now. Otherwise, I'm sure your competitors won't mind the thousands of prospects you're passing up each year.