Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

No Longer A Buzzword

April 15, 2011

The idea of sustainability and green cleaning isn''t new.

What began as a buzzword has developed in to a way of life and an entire industry.

While some people took to the idea with a zealous abandon, others were, and still are, slow to come to the table.

Those who have taken to the idea of green cleaning know just how much the process can benefit a facility and those who live, work and otherwise interact in the space.

There are those who look to green cleaning and sustainability for the “warm fuzzy” feeling it gives them to be doing something that can help preserve the planet.

Others, however, want to take those “warm fuzzies” a step further.

They want to make a statement that says, “We are green, we care.”

Facilities throughout the United States and Canada are therefore turning to different ways to certify that the cleaning methods and products used are green.

One such notable facility is the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech.

A Regional Pioneer

The housekeeping department at the university is responsible for cleaning and maintaining over two million square feet of floor space in 45 on-campus residence halls: Each and every one is certifiably green cleaned.

While the housekeeping department had been interested in the idea of sustainability for several years and was already committed to many of the requirements, they wanted to take it a step further.

“The entire management team from the top down was involved; the whole university has a commitment to sustainability, and the department of housing and dining services is very important to the health and welfare of the students,” said Margie Lawrence, registered executive housekeeper (REH) and assistant director for housekeeping and furnishings at Virginia Tech. “It is important that we feel good about the environment we are creating for students and employees with the residence halls.”

The university decided to work with JanPak Inc. to pursue the CleanZone incentive program.

CleanZone is a unique certification designed to create healthier workplace environments through the implementation of responsible cleaning products, systems and program solutions, while utilizing standards recognized by sustainable industry leaders including the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Seal Inc.

The program features three levels of sustainable certification, an internal marketing and communication plan and action plans to support those pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Through education, training and providing the necessary products and equipment, the hardworking housekeeping staff met the criteria set forth by the certification program and received CleanZone Level III certification in May 2010, becoming the only university in their region to be certified.

The model program and certification has brought pride to the entire university community, while creating a healthy workplace and educational environment for the students and simultaneously helping to meet the university''s requirements for LEED certification.

Taking a facility''s cleaning program to the next level and becoming certified has a positive impact, not only on the level of cleanliness, but on the morale and wellbeing of all who interact with the space.