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Green Schools

Green Cleaning: Apple Care

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was established to drive the transformation of all schools into sustainable and healthy places to live, learn, work and play. The Center believes that everyone, from the kindergartner entering the classroom to the Ph.D. student performing research in a lab, should have the ability to learn in green buildings.

With more than a quarter of all Americans entering a school building each day, there is no questioning the enormity and urgency of the task. Unfortunately today even with the Herculean efforts of our facilities departments, many school buildings are in need of repairs, burdened with unsafe toxins, dwindling budgets and outdated resources. By greening the operations and maintenance of existing schools, a tremendous impact can be made on student health, school operational costs and the environment.

Specific to custodial efforts, the Healthy Schools Campaign, the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association and The Ashkin Group have come together to support the Center’s Green Apple Day of Service by recognizing and encouraging the training of school custodians.

Whether the training is designed to orient new employees, improve the custodian’s knowledge of the tasks being performed, introduce new products and processes, increase productivity and efficiency, protect worker health or reduce environmental impacts, the training can be registered and the school will be recognized with a certificate of participation. 

The registered projects will be used to help communities across the nation learn about the important work that is being done in our schools to create healthy learning environments.

Participation is easy. When custodial training is scheduled, simply go to the Center’s website at and register for training. All that is required is some simple information about the school, the date of the training, how many custodians will be trained, and the approximate number of students served. That’s it!

If training is not already planned, the site provides guidance, including:

  • Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Program
  • ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard for Green Buildings and their Cleaning Industry Training Standard
  • Green Seal’s GS-42 Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services
  • The U.S. Green Building Council’s “LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance” (cleaning credits in the section on Indoor Environmental Quality).

Additionally the project provides how-to guidance to make training during the Green Apple Day of Service a success. Among the suggestions:

  • Find out what training would be helpful. It might be orienting new custodial workers; training on new equipment such as the use of floor machines, no-touch restroom cleaning or backpack vacuums; cleaning hard floors, carpets, classrooms or restrooms; new technologies for measuring cleanliness; right-to-know information; using personal protective equipment; etc.
  • Distributors of cleaning products and/or cleaning service providers should conduct custodial training sessions on identified topics. Schools should contact their distributors and/or cleaning service providers for assistance.
  • Ensure that training sessions are understandable; consider your custodians’ skill level, language and other potential cultural barriers.
  • Make your cleaning program part of your school’s overall sustainability program by promoting your training program through school communication channels like newsletters, PTA or local school fliers.

Registering projects at and collaborating with janitorial supply distributors can make the training easier while sharing the recognition.

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