It’s Here! LEED V4

If you have been receiving my monthly newsletter, DestinationGreen, you know that the US Green Building Council (USGBC) will be introducing LEED v4* in November of 2016. You also know that it includes a number of changes that will impact facility managers as well as building service contractors. I was directly involved with many of these updates, so what will be discussed here is am important tip, specifically for facility managers; changes impacting cleaning contractors as well as the professional cleaning industry; and the thoughts and reasons behind these changes.

Once v4 is in place, it will be up to building owners and managers to make sure the items presented here are executed. And as we will discuss later, it also states that contract cleaners hired to clean and maintain a facility are under management’s control as far as being aware of and fully trained in the Green Cleaning procedures and practices outlined in this new version. This tells us that the bond between contract cleaners and their clients is growing closer and stronger. It will require both parties – owners/managers and contract cleaners – to help ensure the facility meets the new LEED requirements.**

But before exploring all of these matters, the tip I have specifically for building owners and facility managers is that if you want your facilities to be LEED certified, do it now. Under the current version, v3 introduced in 2009, it is easier for facilities to be certified. Getting certified now is less costly as well. I pass this tip on to contract cleaners as well and encourage them to discuss the timing of LEED certification with their clients.

LEED V4 and the Big Change

Possibly one of the most significant changes instituted in v4 is facilities no longer earn a credit for having what LEED calls a “high-performance Green Cleaning” policy in place. So we are all on the same page, a high-performance Green Cleaning policy, as defined by the USGBC, is a program intended “to reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical, biological and particulate contaminants, which adversely affect air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems and the environment.”

Instead of credits, having such a program in place is now a prerequisite—that is, a “must-have.” Even if a facility should qualify for certification in every other area, without a high-performance Green Cleaning policy in place it will not be certified.

However, LEED does offer an exception. If the cleaning contractors maintaining the facility have been certified by GreenSeal’s GS-42 program or ISSA’s CIMS-GB program, this will satisfy the prerequisite. This is because these programs are designed specifically to train cleaning workers on Green and sustainable cleaning practices and the proper use of environmentally preferable cleaning products.

This exception is helpful for both building owners/managers and contract cleaners. For owners and managers it simplifies the submission requirements and reduces a considerable amount of time meeting those requirements. For cleaning contractors that are GS-42 or CIMS-GB certified, a number of new doors of opportunity have just opened. Owners and managers need you to help LEED certify their properties.

(See sidebar: Benefits of LEED Certification)

Other Changes

In general, most of the updates and other changes in v4 are designed to take Green Cleaning and sustainability to the next level. To do so, they have tightened many of the rules. For instance:
The 2009 v3 LEED guidelines allow cleaning contractors to use the APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities Custodial Staffing Guidelines. In v3, the facility must score 3 or less; in v4, that has been lowered to 2.5 or less (the lower the number, the higher the ranking).

With v3, 30 percent of the cleaning products and equipment used by cleaning professionals must meet specific environmental standards to earn credits. LEED v4 brings that up to 75 percent; this includes not only cleaning solutions and equipment but also paper products and liners. A “phase-out plan” is included, allowing managers and cleaning contractors one year to make this adjustment.

In v3, products have to be certified by either Ecologo, now known as UL Environment, or GreenSeal; v4 adds the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice Program as an option.

LEED v4 also encourages innovation. This means LEED will offer credits if a facility uses new technologies that, for instance, help reduce water consumption or waste management systems that help reduce the overall environmental impact of a facility. As to cleaning, an example of a new innovation would be the use of engineered water. As long as independent studies indicate these technologies have environmental benefits they are considered and encouraged.

Overall, all of these changes are made for the same reason and that is for facilities to have a more complete and comprehensive Green Cleaning and sustainability program in place to help protect health as well as the environment.

A LEED Disappointment

While I am very enthusiastic with most of the updates and changes introduced in v4, I must admit there is one disappointment. In my view, plastic liners used in facilities should be made of recycled content; be recyclable; and come in a variety of sizes so that just the right-sized bag is used, helping to reduce waste.
However, while other voices agreed with me about manufacturing bags in multiple sizes, some also claimed that recycled liners are less dependable and are more likely to tear. As a result, at this time, the use of plastic liners made from recycled content is not a part of v4. However, I trust new innovations and technologies will result in stronger recycled liners.

Although this is my disappointment, as indicated there are many good things in LEED v4 that I am enthusiastic about. One of them is that it further elevates our industry. We are now key players in helping building owners and managers earn LEED certification. Our entire industry is essentially a prerequisite for a facility to earn LEED certification and achieve its goal of protecting the health of building users and the environment.

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, and the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for promoting sustainability. He is also CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which offers a cloud-based dashboard that allows organizations to measure, report, and improve their sustainability efforts. He is the coauthor of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.

* LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized Green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community is built or operated using strategies aimed at improving performance that include energy savings, enhanced water efficiency, improved indoor air and overall environmental quality, and greater sensitivity to how building operations impact tenants and the environment.

** Many facilities do not try to become LEED certified but still follow the guidelines in the LEED program. Therefore, these changes and updates would apply to them as well.

Sidebar: Benefits of LEED Certification

For more than a decade, research studies and case studies have been published indicating the benefits of a facility being LEED certified or following LEED guidelines. While they may vary, in general these facilities benefit from higher rents; longer lasting tenants; higher quality tenants; and cost savings due to reductions in energy and water consumption.

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DEAL Program Introduced at ISSA Tradeshow

News Release

For immediate release

DEAL Program Introduced at ISSA Tradeshow

Designed to help warehouse distributors reduce operating costs
and be more efficient.

Bloomington, IN – Among the many events at the recent ISSA tradeshow just completed in Chicago, was the introduction by ISSA of the DEAL program, developed with the help of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC.

DEAL, which stands for Distributor Efficiency Analytics & Learning, is an online “portal,” designed to help warehouse distributors reduce operating costs and be more efficient.

Estimates indicate that the program can help save up to $15,000 in operating costs, which is comparable to increasing sales by as much as $150,000, according to Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools.

His comments are based on studies by the U.S. Green Building Council and the Environmental Protection Agency that have found savings of 10 percent to as much as 30 percent in operating costs are possible when the DEAL program’s sustainability initiatives and improvements are made.

The program does this by helping distributors measure and monitor their fuel and resource usage— for instance, fuel used for product deliveries; building energy consumption; water use, etc. The DEAL program also provides learning sessions for users, data gathering, and benchmarking.

Along with helping to reduce operating costs and become more efficient, Ashkin says the DEAL program can also “address the growing demand by customers, especially larger customers that want to know their suppliers have their own sustainability initiatives in place.”

The DEAL program also allows warehouse distributors to compare how they are doing – reducing consumption and improving efficiencies – against similar distributors nationally.

“We have had distributors beta testing the program for several months now,” adds Ashkin. “All of them report the program is providing solutions to help reduce financial pressures, operating costs, and at the same time, improve their own sustainability initiatives.”




About The Sustainability Dashboard Tool, LLC.

The Sustainability Dashboard is an advance reporting system designed for business owners and managers and property developers involved in sustainability programs. The system measures and monitors energy, water, fuel consumption and other metrics and is specifically designed to be easy to use, reduce environmental impacts, save money, and create a culture of sustainability. For more information visit:


Contact Information:

Stephen Ashkin:




ISSA is determined to remain the leading worldwide association for the cleaning industry by representing all the professions it encompasses and by allying with other trade organizations that share its members’ common goals. In doing so, the association plans to leverage the strength of its global cleaning community to change the way the world views cleaning – increasing the appreciation for cleaning as an investment in human health, the environment and an improved bottom line.

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Thoughts on ISSA and Upcoming Events

ISSA Show ChicagoThere was so much going on at this year’s ISSA tradeshow in Chicago that at times it was hard to keep up. Among the many events was ISSA’s introduction of the DEAL program, developed with the help of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC.

DEAL, which stands for Distributor Efficiency Analytics & Learning, is an online “portal,” designed to help warehouse distributors reduce operating costs and be more efficient.

We were pleased, and a bit surprised, to see just how many people attended this event. It was standing room only, which tells me many distributors now see “cost savings” when they think about sustainability…something that was not the case only a few years ago.

In fact, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Environmental Protection Agency estimate savings of 10 percent to as much as 30 percent are possible when the DEAL program’s sustainability initiatives are implemented.

To put this in more tangible terms, if a distributor saves $15,000 annually by using the DEAL program, they may be able to save up to $15,000 in operating costs, comparable to increasing sales by as much as $150,000

The DEAL program does this by helping distributors measure and monitor use of resources such as fuel, electricity, water, etc., so that they can take steps to reduce consumption.

The program launch was highlighted with an awards ceremony honoring those distributors that have been “beta” testing the program for the past several months and benefited from the program. Those honored include the following:

Healthy School Campaign Lunch Keynote

Another high point of the show for me was that I was honored to give the lunch keynote address for the Healthy School Campaign. More than 150 people attended this event including administrators from schools and universities as well as administrators from K-to-12 school districts around the country.

My address focused on the power of leadership. I discussed the central role leaders play in advancing key topics, including sustainability initiatives. They have a vision, develop a game plan, and then motivate and inspire others to come on board to make things happen. We see this happening in professional sports and it’s that type of leadership that will help move “Green” and sustainability issues to the next level.

And talking about sports, the ISSA show also included a workshop sponsored by the Green Sports alliance. Although the workshop was directed toward sports venue operators, several jansan manufacturers and distributors attended as well. The workshop allowed us to learn, share, and discuss steps sports facilities are now taking to reduce their environmental footprint and explore how these steps are influencing fans to follow suit.

By the way, . . . on November 16 we will be having a Greener Cleaning Workshop sponsored by the Washington Nationals baseball team which will include a tour of their facility so everyone can see directly the Green and sustainability initiatives they have put into place. Anyone wishing to attend the event please contact our team at Sustainability Dashboard Tools and they will help you with the arrangements.

Face Washing

Finally, I would like to discuss an issue with you that I believe is of growing importance. We are making progress getting more children to wash their hands, but we need to take that a step further and encourage them to wash their faces more thoroughly and frequently as well.

During the course of the day, germs and bacteria build up on our hands and wind up being transferred to our faces. We may not be aware of it, but all of us, especially kids, touch our faces throughout the day, transferring germs and bacteria at the same time. Adults touch their faces about four times per hour so we can assume kids are doing the same if not more frequently.

Essentially, our kids are “self-inoculating” themselves with these germs and bacteria which can cause disease. We’re not going to have much luck getting kids to stop touching their faces…but I would like to ask you to help me develop ways to encourage our kids to make face washing just as important as handwashing. This could be a very big step in keeping them happy and healthy.

Thanks, and talk to you soon.


PS: Don’t forget, if you want to attend the private tour of the Washington Nationals ballpark, just let us know

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