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GCA Best New Program Higher Education: University of California Irvine, Irvine, California

Dec. 1, 2013
GCA Best New Program Higher Education: University of California Irvine, Irvine, California

GCA Best New Program Higher Education: University of California Irvine, Irvine, California  

Program Information

Total number of students: 28,000

Total square footage maintained: 4,700,000

Total number of custodians: 70

Total annual cleaning budget: $3,400,000

Green cleaning team members: Rob Rice, Asst. Dir.; Aaron Uresti, Sr. Superintendent; Joel Villanueva, Jacqueline Campbell, Asst. Superintendents; Jesus Jacobo, Jesse Retana, Sergio Sanchez, Supervisors; CleanSource, Janitorial Prod. Dist.; Windsor Industries; Spartan Chemical Company

In March 2012, UC Irvine insourced the custodial services that are managed by the Facilities Management Department. The department manages more than 100 buildings and 4.7 million of cleanable square feet on the campus. Previously, they used custodial contractor companies to provide these services for more than 45 years. 

During the planning phase of the insourcing effort, the custodial management team realized the importance of implementing a green cleaning program that would reflect the campus’ commitment to environmental stewardship. Calculated decisions were made in selecting the required equipment and materials necessary to successfully execute daily operations. 

The operational practices that they have implemented into the program over the past 18 months have been endorsed by a wide variety of campus stakeholders, including the campus sustainability committee, the recycling and refuse department, and various campus building facility managers.

Moving forward into 2014, one of their goals is to elevate the organization to another level by becoming CIMS & CIMS-GB certified through ISSA. They are excited for the opportunity to further demonstrate their devotion to customer service, quality assurance and sustainability. Members of the management team attended the CIMS-I.C.E workshop this fall in Las Vegas to attain certification.

They have a low-environmental-impact cleaning program that is intended to minimize exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to hazardous chemical, biological and particle contaminants that may adversely impact air quality, health, building finishes and systems, and the environment. 

Some examples of cleaning procedures, polices, and strategies that have been adopted to help reduce waste, promote sustainability, and protect the campus:

-Restroom cleaning: Custodians responsible for cleaning restrooms dispose of restroom trash in the commingled recycle dumpster. The paper and can liners that they supply meet LEED EBOM criteria for recycled and post-consumable content, which contributes to the campus’ 85 percent diversion rate.

-General chemical, disinfectant and equipment use: They have streamlined the core chemicals and equipment that they use on a daily basis to only a few. In their chemical program, they use a total of three chemicals for everyday use. The majority of their equipment is LEED compliant and includes items such as automatic scrubbers; floor and carpet-care machines, upright and backpack vacuums. Streamlining chemicals and equipment has helped in creating a more uniform training program where they are able to focus on only a small number of products.

-Mandated training: Conducting recurring training is a crucial element to a successful green cleaning program. The campus Environmental Health & Safety department requires that all custodial staff successfully complete a series of classroom and online training courses. Courses include bloodborne pathogens, back injury prevention and manual material handling, custodial safety, and hazard communication for custodians, and sexual harassment. The custodial department conducts their own internal training sessions (tailgates) every two weeks to ensure that best practices are being followed. They also ask that their vendors to visit on a periodic basis to conduct refresher training classes on the proper use and maintenance of the chemicals and equipment that we use. This gives the opportunity to confirm that they are following recommendations.

-Sustainability: Their green cleaning program has contributed to the campus’ sustainability efforts. They look forward to helping the campus obtain additional LEED EBOM awards in the future.

-Innovation, evaluation methods and performance metrics: The management team uses a software system to document and measure the quality of the green cleaning program. QC audits are conducted by the management team on a recurring basis, and all inspection results are shared with staff, which gives the chance to communicate excellent performance and/or opportunities for improvement. They have established pass/fail percentage benchmarks by area type so that service expectations are clearly defined.

One thing that they have noticed since the insourcing occurred 18 months ago is that staff injuries have decreased among the workers. They attribute this in part to the use of automated equipment (e.g. auto-scrubbers), which assists in minimizing repetitive motion type accidents when performing cleaning tasks such as mopping hard floor surfaces. The campus contractor never incorporated automated equipment into its cleaning program.

-Paperless communication with the campus: The department has “gone paperless” and uses the Internet to communicate information to the campus. 

-Green cleaning policies: The University of California Regents approved a system-wide policy on sustainable practices:

The department feels that transparency is the best approach to providing quality customer service. The Facilities Management website provides a description of the unit purpose. It also explains the successful implementation of the green cleaning program and informs the campus community that Green Seal-certified products are being used and reinforces the commitment to being responsible stewards for our environment. A link to the FM website can be found here:

Routine cleaning schedules are posted online for the campus community to view. The online schedules have proven to be a valuable communication tool that informs the campus of when to expect certain services in their building. 

-Recognition: In April 2012, custodial management members received “The Optimal Performance Strategy” (T.O.P.S) Award within the facilities management department for outstanding effort in the planning, preparation and implementation of the insourcing project. In only a six-month period, they were able to successfully insource the custodial program, which included a green cleaning program without requiring the use of an outside consultant. They also effectively coordinated with several other campus departments during this time while continuing to handle the day-to-day service and customer needs of the contract custodial services for the campus.

In November 2012, they partnered with the campus Sustainability Committee to attain a LEED EBOM Silver award in Croul Hall, a three-story, 66,000-square-foot building that houses research laboratories, office and support space, and classrooms.  

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