Posted November 29, 2023

What LEED 5 means for the professional cleaning industry

The newest version of LEED certification – LEED V5 – was introduced at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo this fall.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which developed the LEED program, this latest version is "a milestone in the effort to align the built environment with the Paris Climate Accord's 2030 and 2050 targets."

While Green Cleaning has always been a crucial part of the LEED program, v5 introduces additional certification requirements that facility managers and the professional cleaning industry should know.

For instance:

  • With v5, equity-related issues are now considered. Buildings and their cleaning contractors “must annually prepare social responsibility reports for any cleaning service provider to ensure they are using a legal and properly trained workforce and [are] addressing other social responsibilities."
  • The newest version also calls for "periodically evaluating cleaning performance to verify that the [v5 LEED certified] building is clean; that [proper] cleaning procedures and staffing methods are being followed and aligned with how the building is used."

Steve Ashkin, a member of the USGBC board and president of The Ashkin Group, says the professional cleaning industry will benefit from v5.

For example, Ashkin points to the following:

  • It puts a greater emphasis on reducing worker exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. It further encourages the use of Green cleaning solutions because they reduce the environmental and health risks associated with traditional cleaning methods, especially for the cleaning workers who use them every day.
  • Improved ergonomics. LEED 5 further emphasizes that cleaning equipment must reduce worker injury, fatigue, and produce less vibration and noise.
  • Enhanced worker satisfaction. Using more ergonomic cleaning equipment and Green cleaning solutions will likely lead to increased job satisfaction.
  • Attract customers. Cleaning contractors committed to Green Cleaning and the new LEED standards attract customers seeking a healthier, more sustainability-focused cleaning service. View v5 as a marketing tool.
  • Reduce cleaning supply costs. The price point between Green and conventional cleaning solutions has narrowed. What often makes Green cleaning solutions less costly is that they are highly concentrated, meaning a little goes a long way.

"In general, effective cleaning is crucial for LEED certification," says Ashkin.

"As a USGBC board member, I am always encouraging the organization to realize the value of cleaning and recognize [that] it safeguards human health, which is at the core of the LEED program."

Stephen AshkinStephen P. Ashkin, founder of The Ashkin Group, is known as the Father of Green Cleaning and the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for sustainability. ISSA has recognized him as one of the most important contributors to the professional cleaning industry in ISSA’s 100- year history. He can be reached at: