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GCA Honorable Mention Higher Education: Valencia College, Orlando, Florida

GCA Honorable Mention Higher Education: Valencia College, Orlando, Florida

GCA Honorable Mention Higher Education: Valencia College, Orlando, Florida

Program Information

Total number of students: 42,003

Total square footage maintained: 2.1 million (5 campuses)

Total number of custodians: 47 (West Campus); 35 (East Campus); 21 (Osceola Campus)

Total annual cleaning budget: $4 million

Green cleaning team members: John Letterman, Interim AVP for Facilities and Sustainability; Melvin Scott, West Campus Cust. Supervisor; Mary Hardaway, Custodial Services Supervisor Osceola Campus, Raul Martinez Androver, Cust. Svcs. Supervisor, East Campus; Annmarie Wise, Purch. Agent; Grosvenors, Cleaning Contractor (for satellite campuses: CJI, Winter Park, Lake Nona, District Office); Peninsular Paper/Spartan Chemical Company

In 2006, Valencia College’s Sustainability Committee and Assistant Vice President for Facilities discussed “going green” with custodial supervisors. Research into the benefits convinced these supervisors to pilot green cleaning practices and then expand to all 66 buildings on five campuses. The college’s green cleaning program became part of a larger collegewide sustainability effort, including environmental standards for procurement, and provides a more healthful and safer environment for student learning.

Strategies to reduce health impacts for building occupants and custodial staff started with eliminating toxic cleaning materials and purchase of Green Seal (GS) labeled products. Vendors of green cleaning equipment and supplies pitched their products, and products allowing the same quality level of cleanliness with lower environmental, staff and occupant health impacts were adopted. Through the construction of four LEED gold and three Green Globes-certified buildings, architects and subcontractors have brought new green cleaning techniques to the department’s attention. Procurement’s request for proposals specifies green cleaning in contracted custodial services for the three satellite campuses.

Operations and Maintenance (O & M) Guidelines to document green practices were codified in 2012. For a LEED Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) pilot project, O & M Guidelines are being supplemented by additional tracking systems. Valencia College has its own job scheduling and assigning system. Inspections contribute to quality and safety, and 15 percent of custodial staff members are working supervisors, with one supervisor doing floor-by-floor daily inspections on three buildings.

In the past two years, Valencia College has developed a unique behavioral energy-efficiency program in which the hours heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are run are reduced to save energy and money. This program has stimulated changes in custodial practices. Custodial staff members are clearly proud of their buildings and green cleaning methods.

-Cleaning procedures and strategies used to reduce general health impacts:

Cleaning solutions and hand soaps have been converted to non-toxic Green Seal (GS) certified products, where available from the vendor. Having phased out individually packaged cleaning products, Valencia College now uses dilution systems for sanitizers, window cleaners, floor cleaners and peroxide carpet cleaners, with dispensers in the janitorial closets of each building. Dilution is set at lower concentrations than recommended by the manufacturer, to conserve resources and reduce risk to staff and occupants. General-purpose, bathroom, glass and carpet cleaners are GS-37 products, and bathroom hand soaps are GS-41/CCD-104. Antimicrobial agents are used only as required by health codes for the dental health program.

An early step to improve air quality was elimination of high dusting with “shake dusters” and using backpack vacuums with HEPA filtration. Old-fashioned mopping has been largely eliminated to reduce water use and exposures of staff to contaminated water. Riding mopping equipment is used in larger areas, with dust mopping as needed. Indoor-rated high-pressure wash equipment is used with disinfectants for hard-to-clean areas, such as bathrooms. Entryways into all buildings are equipped with walkoff mats, which are vacuumed daily along with the floor beneath them, and the mats are cleaned weekly. Reusable microfiber cloths have replaced all disposable paper cleaning products. Cloths are color-coded to avoid cross-contamination, and washed in Energy Star-rated washers.

-Training: Training starts with Plant Ops Survivor Skills, two four-hour sessions that include material safety data sheets (MSDS) and risk management, taught by the college’s compliance inspector. Staff is taught techniques to reduce cross-contamination, procedures for waste handling, and how to use green cleaning products, equipment and tools properly, through the Spartan Clean Check training system with 16 hours of Online Video Tutorials. An additional eight hours are taught by custodial supervisors and vendors, including how to use specific machines. The online tutorials end with quizzes and a test on which staff must achieve a score of 70 or above to continue employment. Staff repeat the 16-hour Clean Check training system each year, and receive in-person training on any new techniques or equipment. All of Valencia’s 103 custodial employees and supervisors complete this training.

-Innovations: Carpet cleaning: In the past, carpets were cleaned with water-based solutions with a WetVac to extract moisture, and HVAC was left running all night for drying. The college’s new energy education policies of turning off HVAC immediately after students and faculty leave necessitated new approaches. In a waterless technique appropriate for Central Florida’s humid climate, the college now uses spray tanks with GS-37 peroxide carpet cleaner, with floor buffing equipment with a microfiber bonnet.

Hard floor cleaning: Instead of harsh wax-stripping chemicals, a floor scrubber is used to top-scrub and eliminate old finish. Half as many coats of wax are put down thanks to use of the burnisher. One person can do either the stripping or burnishing; it previously it took three or more people to accomplish each task. These techniques conserve cleaning and floor restoration materials and minimize exposure to harmful chemicals for both staff and occupants.


Valencia College has had an active recycling program since 2007, run as part of custodial operations. Energy efficiency is one of Valencia College’s strongest efforts. During the three-week break in August, when 12-month staff are still working, custodial departments shift their hours of operation. Without the necessity of cleaning at night to avoid impacting classes, staff reduces HVAC through shorter occupied hours.

Low-energy use hand dryers have been installed in most parts of the college, easing the “paper footprint.” Valencia College also has water-filling stations to reduce one-time use of plastic water bottles. Purchase of only green cleaning products is part of the college’s policy for purchase of environmentally preferable materials.

Evaluation methods and results: The human resources department has been able to document fewer accidents since green cleaning has expanded college-wide. Valencia College Facilities Supervisors credit the green cleaning program to greatly increased custodial staff morale and reduced absenteeism.

-Policies or processes used to engage others: Valencia College’s green cleaning practices have been codified in its Operations and Maintenance Guidelines, reviewed, agreed upon, and updated by facilities managers, and posted on the Valencia College Sustainability website. When green cleaning practices have been pioneered on one of its campuses, green cleaning guidelines are used by procurement to screen all purchases of equipment and supplies for all campuses. Periodic meetings among the custodial supervisors of the three major campuses are now being initiated to better share information and experience. The Office of Sustainability is administering a thermal comfort/indoor air quality survey to all staff and faculty, as part of LEED EBOM certification. This will provide additional information on college-wide response to the green cleaning program.

-Communications/Community engagement: Green cleaning has been featured on the sustainability website since the website was established in 2010. The Office of Sustainability has given countless presentations to faculty, staff and students on Valencia College’s Sustainability efforts, all of which have included the green cleaning program. Vendors of green cleaning products have had displays at Campus Sustainability Days in the past.

Valencia College began recycling in 2007 and now has college-wide labeled receptacles for recycling of paper, plastic, aluminum cans, which custodians empty daily into dumpsters picked up by our recycling company. Proceeds from the recycling have been used to purchase recycle bins. On Earth Day each year, a day's worth of trash and recycled materials is placed on display with students asked to guess quantities, as a learning exercise. A Student Skillshop to educate interested students on both HVAC and green cleaning practices was scheduled for Campus Sustainability Day October 24. An article profiled the green cleaning program to faculty and staff in Valencia College’s online weekly newsletter “The Grove,” and received positive comments.

West Campus Custodial Supervisor Melvin Scott presented on the Green Cleaning program and showed new equipment at an August 2013 Association of Florida Colleges Sustainability Workshop. The workshop was attended by more than 60 people, representing 13 community colleges around the state as well as Central Florida facilities managers. Equipment such as riding floor burnishers was on display, and custodial staff from West Campus and supervisors from other campus attended the workshop. A June 2013 green building program for the USGBC Central Florida Chapter members also featured the college’s Green Cleaning program.

Recognition Valencia College achieved the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in 2012, one of only 15 community colleges to achieve this rating. Valencia College has entered Recyclemania for the past four years in the Waste Minimization category and won first in both 2012 and 2013

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