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University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

Green Cleaning Award 2010 Higher Education Co-Grand Award

Since the original green cleaning pilot project was implemented in Old College in August 2005, the physical plant program has been so successful and popular among building clients that the physical plant moved toward formalizing the green cleaning program to include the entire campus of resident instruction buildings. There are currently 168 buildings being cleaning with our total green cleaning program, with plans to convert the rest of the campus facilities prior to December 2010. The main focus of the program was to improve indoor air quality in buildings, substitute hazardous chemicals with safer, environmentally friendly cleaning products, reduce employee workplace accidents and standardize employee work practices.

UGA realized that its building service workers were regularly using chemicals with dangerous health, flammable and/or reactive characteristics. Over the past three years, more than 500 hazardous cleaning chemicals have been eliminated from inventory stock and replaced with just two daily cleaners with environmentally friendly compounds. Glass cleaning now is being done with water and microfiber cloths to further reduce VOCs and chemical usage. Stainless steel in elevators and other public areas are being cleaned using a pilot program that takes advantage of electrically charged water instead of chemicals.

Building service employees and supervisors are required to attend a two-week hands-on and academic training session prior to beginning their permanent assignment. The Building Service Worker Academy is an established, consistent method of standardized work methods based on green cleaning practices, worker safety training, customer service, and is a requirement for eligible employees to advance in Building Service positions. To date, nearly 275 employees and supervisors have completed the academy. The combination of the two programs enabled the physical plant to “restart” its Building Services operation on a foundation of best business practices.

In October 2008, the physical plant (PPD) earned Certification with Honors from the ISSA, Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS), making the University of Georgia only the second university in the United States to earn this designation and the first to earn it under the recognized practices of green cleaning. UGA’s facility cleaning program gives “cleaning for health” in the campus environment a cost-saving and workplace safety focus. The program encompasses efficient business processes, standardized employee training, customer training for facility building inhabitants, and a defined emphasis on indoor air quality and sustainability.


The green cleaning program is focused on intensive employee and inhabitant training and certification that includes a partnership in green training from UGA PPD and a local OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) trainer. Employees are taught to use green cleaning products, equipment and tools properly; techniques to reduce cross-contamination; procedures for universal waste handling; bloodborne pathogens; and inventory-control measures through the academy program. The disinfectant program is designed to reduce student, faculty and staff exposure to harmful diseases or contaminants by use of a hospital grade quad-disinfectant. Employees are responsible for disinfecting in all public access points daily: telephone receivers; door handles; electrical light faceplates/switches; restrooms; hallway touch points; keyboards; etc. with a wipe method to reduce VOC exposures.

Other cleaning strategies include regular and frequent supervisory crew meetings that stress safety training; building meetings with faculty/staff contact persons to ensure that they know the cleaning plan for their buildings; and visible Building Inhabitant Notebooks with MSDS information and contact number for the Building Services management team. Each building is work-loaded (electronic data entry) into the custodial maintenance management software (CMMS) program for floor-by-floor chemical and equipment inventory, routine cleaning assignments per staff member, training cards for floor assignments, supervisory cleaning task checks, and cost projections by facility. Quality-assurance checklists by building inhabitants and the management team are turned in for a final building report.


Each facility has a cleaning plan based on square footage, predetermined cleaning tasks assigned by employee task list, which includes restrooms, general areas, offices, classrooms or labs, hallways/stairs, and specialized cleaning schedules for carpet shampooing/hard floor care and maintenance. Public-relation posters and visual displays are used for promotions: hand hygiene; reducing water and energy consumption; recycling; and sustainability (, (, and water conservation issues at
Additionally, the new UGA Office for Sustainability has developed environmentally theme certificate programs for students and office staff members to develop their own environmentally friendly habits while on campus (


-Building Service Worker Academy is used to standardize all cleaning operations of staff, conflict resolution strategies, worker safety and liability issues. Additionally, the academy has a dedicated section that emphasizes the employee’s role in campus sustainability and recycling while they work.

-Green Building listserv (educational), electronic mail address (complaints/concerns), and a UGA PPD Building Services website at ( were developed to provide information to the campus community.

-Go Green website: ( for sustainability issues and recognition.

-Work in partnerships with campus student group to publicize green cleaning; campuswide recycling efforts; Go Green Alliance; and faculty/staff group to publicize green cleaning and sustainability efforts via UGA Academy of the Environment.

-Computerized custodial inventory and equipment management tools for supervisors for capital expenditure planning and justification.

-Student competition in the residence halls are combined into the Green Cup Challenge

-Partnered with UGA Environmental Safety Division to develop and implement a Cleaning Chemical Product exchange program with other GA schools and universities who wanted cleaning chemical products. To date, more than 400 cases of cleaning products have transferred in this Reuse Program.

-Partnership for first campus “composting toilet” in a recreational sports facility ( Employees maintain this restroom facility.


The impact of this comprehensive process improvement has been substantial, resulting in:
•Decrease in the number of serious employee injuries from slips/falls (4474 lost hours in 2007, 2106 lost hours in 2008, 386 lost hours Jan-Aug 2009).
•Decrease in the number of respiratory complaints from employees associated with cleaning chemicals.
•Awarding of certificates to nearly 200 employees who have completed the standardized training offered through the Building Service Worker Academy.
•PPD Services Department has worked with campus procurement office staff to get 43 green cleaning items listed in “green contracts” categories. This serves to enhance the purchasing power of the entire university and allows other campus departments and Georgia colleges/universities to utilize similar commodities (
•PPD Services has seen cost savings from $1.3 million spent on traditional cleaners in 2008 to $196,000 in 2010 for the two green daily cleaners, Green Seal-certified hand soap.

Story of innovation—Procurement: The PPD Services Department has worked with campus procurement office staff to get 43 green cleaning items listed in “green contracts” categories. This enhances the purchasing power of the entire university and enables other campus departments and Georgia colleges/universities to utilize similar commodities.

Program Information

Number of students: 35,000

Square footage maintained: 9.7 million (resident instruction)

Number of full-time custodians: 326

Annual cleaning budget: $12 million

Green cleaning team members: Kimberly Thomas, Asst. Director-PPD Svcs.; Jerry Heninger, Superintendent-Building Svcs.; Leo Billups, Adam Hayes, Roy Faust, Asst. Superintendents; Deborah Massey, David McCannon, Trainers; Hope Thomas, Safety Coord.; Kevin Liu, HazMat Spec.; Athens Janitor Supply Company, Grainger, Janitorial Prod. Distributors; UGA Physical Plant Depts: Grounds, Energy Services, Operations & Maintenance, Human Resources, Office of Sustainability

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