It all started with a chance meeting on an airplane. Thirteen years ago, Steve Ashkin, known to many as the father of green cleaning, happened to be seated next to Healthy Schools Campaign President and CEO, Rochelle Davis on a flight to Chicago. At the time, Healthy Schools Campaign was a scrappy upstart, making inroads in the school health community. Ashkin and Davis started talking about the important role cleaning plays in making a healthy environment for children, staff and teachers. That conversation hasn’t ended yet. Ashkin has been an integral component in the creation and growth of Green Clean Schools ever since.
More Than a Partner
“Beyond the spark, Steve Ashkin was the person who gave us the knowledge to get started,” recalls Mark Bishop. “When we began our green cleaning work, we were focused on getting the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to move toward a more sustainable and healthier cleaning program. Ashkin was instrumental in helping us develop pilots that eventually led to changing CPS’ cleaning policy.” He wrote the first implementation guide we distributed to Chicago schools — which eventually became our Five Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools (also known as the Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools). He also served as an important link between HSC and leading vendors and manufacturers in the cleaning industry.
Our success in rolling out green cleaning policy for CPS was our first big victory. Today, our Green Clean Schools program continues to win big for schools, having helped to pass green cleaning legislation in states across the country, making huge strides with the Green Cleaning Award and helping schools everywhere develop green cleaning programs. Ashkin’s support, friendship and expertise have made all that possible. He is our partner, but he is also so much more. He’s a trusted advisor, technical expert, passionate advocate and industry liaison, too.
Ashkin is constantly engaging others to move the global cleaning industry forward — beyond green, even. “In my early 20s I did a six-year church mission and discovered that this is my calling. Today, working on these issues is how I serve,” reflects Ashkin.
He believes in the power of technical expertise, education and collaboration and has been an instrumental figure in pushing the cleaning industry toward a more sustainable and healthier business model. He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and consultant. As president of The Ashkin Group, an internationally recognized consulting firm, he works with the government, advocates, building owners, property management companies and more to green the cleaning industry by offering workshops, training, assessments, technical advice and many other forms of individualized support.
Ashkin also serves as the executive director of the Green Cleaning Network, co-founder of Green Cleaning University and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC. He is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and helped write their LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System. He received an award from the White House for helping to launch the President’s Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program and was also a recipient of an Excellence Award from EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection for his work protecting children from environmental threats.
Sustainability Tools for Schools
Ashkin has created a software company that helps schools, or any facility for that matter, track their purchases, energy, water consumption, transportation and waste, including recycling and composting — all in relation to sustainability. This tool, called the Sustainability Dashboard, is intended to move schools from green to sustainable. The cloud-based computer program ties sustainability to bottom-line results. It is designed to be used by facility managers and staff, as well as administrators and others involved in making a school more sustainable.
If you are interested in meeting Ashkin or listening to him speak in person, you may consider attending the first annual Green Clean Schools Leadership Summit this July.