It’s no secret that the cleaning industry continues to evolve toward greater sustainability. Manufacturers offer green cleaning chemicals, paper products and equipment, but until recently, the products used in commercial laundry operations were anything but environmentally friendly.

That’s starting to change.

In 2013, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced its newest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building program, LEED v4. The program, launched at the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, made several notable changes. Among these was a change to its green cleaning prerequisites, which was expanded to include less toxic laundry and warewashing chemicals.

Though LEED v4 doesn’t go into effect until June 1, 2015, Stephen Ashkin, founder and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools and The Ashkin Group of Bloomington, Indiana, says the move represents a fundamental shift in the way the LEED rating system looks at laundry operations. As of June 1, it’s no longer optional; greening laundry operations are part of the green cleaning prerequisite.

“You don’t get a point for it, but you have to do it or your building fails to meet the requirements,” he says. “The prerequisite applies to buildings with on-site laundry, which includes the hospitality/lodging industry, healthcare facilities, and others that have laundry operations.”

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