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Green Cleaning At The University Of Maryland

September 19, 2010
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The University of Maryland (UMD) at College Park was established in 1856.

Fast-forward 153 years and this forward-thinking university began greening its Department of Residential Facilities housekeeping program, which provides housekeeping and integrated pest management services to over 2.3 million square feet of housing and recreational facilities.

Because the health, safety and general well-being of students and staff is paramount to UMD, cleaning in an environmentally friendly manner was something the university took very seriously.

The initial trial, which consisted of installing chemical dispensing units and converting to Green Seal-certified cleaning chemicals, affected approximately 700 campus residents in two high-rise residence halls and involved 15 housekeeping staff members.

In preparation, three hours of classroom training and one hour of one-on-one training was provided by Spartan Chemical''s Regional Manager Ralph Fondren and was designed to help staff understand the purpose for each new chemical and the best practices to reduce overall chemical usage and improve the efficacy of their work.

Following the purchase of Green Seal-certified products, the installation of the dispensing units in each housekeeping supply closet and intense staff training, the trial officially began in September 2005.

After four months of testing and observation, it was apparent that the program would help achieve the university''s objectives of reducing chemical usage, enhancing work quality and improving indoor air quality.

As a result, the program was expanded campus-wide in January 2006. A three-hour training program, similar to that initiated for the trial run, was attended by all of the department''s 89 housekeeping staff.

Expanding the program throughout all of the campus'' residence halls required 623 hours of training and the installation of 78 new dispensing units.

Within the last year, new bio-renewable products to address graffiti were added to the inventory that includes a Green Seal-certified all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner.

In addition, a green stripper was introduced to replace the high volatile organic compound (VOC) stripping compound used previously in campus residence halls.

While staff initially questioned the effectiveness of this new product, they have now endorsed the change, noting the positive impact they feel it has made on workplace air quality and their overall health.

In 2009, UMD is looking to implement more aspects of green cleaning and adjust their current program.

The program is very active and requires that the university continually examine new technologies and even safer, more effective chemicals and procedures.

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