Ashkin explains LEED Safety First pilot credits, how green cleaning can contribute to Net Zero, and sustainable jansan

by Brianna Crandall — November 12, 2021 — Steve Ashkin, known as the Father of Green Cleaning, has just released a Stephen_Ashkin_headshotshort (7-minute) video from his presentation at the recent NET ZERO Conference (NZ21). 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.

Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, noted:

This is likely because climate change is no longer some “far in the future” phenomenon, nor is [there] still debate about the science. 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 (USGBC) provided a panel discussion that addressed its six LEED 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.

Ashkin continued:

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. Fortunately, the industry is taking steps to accomplish this by introducing advanced cleaning equipment that uses less water than older systems or recycle[s] water.

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

Ashkin concluded:

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

Ashkin’s LEED Safety First: Cleaning & Disinfecting Your Space presentation is available to view online.

More info on the new credits is located here:


The ISSA Show North America, considered the largest tradeshow for the professional cleaning industry, will also be reconvening after two years on November 15, 2021, at the Las Vegas Convention Center for three days.

Ashkin stated:

This year, there will be much greater emphasis on the role effective cleaning plays in protecting health. But as critically important as that is, the show will also focus on the need to protect the environment and promote sustainability.

Ashkin, who is working to create “a roadmap to sustainability for the professional cleaning industry,” will be leading the charge when it comes to both green cleaning and sustainability.

His presentation, to be held at the Education Center on the Show Floor on Tuesday, November 16, at 3:30 PM, is entitled: Sustainability: What You Need to Know.

Among the key points he will be making are the following:

  • A better understanding of what sustainability is and how it applies to the jansan industry
  • Why key performance indicators (KPIs) are so important when monitoring sustainability initiatives.
  • How sustainability is simply smart business

Ashkin will also be doing presentations and seminars for members of BSCAI, a leading organization of cleaning contractors, who will also be at the tradeshow.