The University of Virginia is the first higher education institution in Virginia – and the third in the nation – to receive certification that its building cleaning standards are environmentally responsible and safe.
Green Seal, a Washington, D.C., based non‐profit organization that identifies products and services that protect the environment and human health, has awarded the Building Services Division of U.Va.’s Facilities Management division its prestigious “Green Seal GS-42 Certification” for cleaning service programs.
Awarded Oct. 11, the certification affirms that Building Services’ cleaning program meets standards for health, waste minimization, building-specific operational procedures, effective custodial training and use of products with limits on human and environmental toxicity.
“The Building Services team has long supported the tenets of green cleaning,” said Vibha Buckingham, Building Services’ associate director. “But in the past 12 months, we have taken that passion and turned it into formalized procedures and standards to ensure everything that we do supports the good health of our workers, our students, our staff, our faculty and the environment itself.”
Training Manager Sandra Smith attended GS-42 training sponsored by the Building Wellness Institute in Maryland and mapped out a project plan to address Green Seal requirements.
“From the very beginning, our goal was to use the pursuit of certification as an opportunity to develop our staff, create standards for cleaning quality and consistency, and overall strengthen the team to be as productive and motivated as possible,” Smith said.
Among the more than 50 procedures U.Va. requires are using only safe and effective, approved products; consulting material manufacturers for recommended cleaning products and procedures; ensuring sufficient matting at entryways to catch initial dust, dirt and contaminants; avoiding cross-contamination by separating restroom supplies from those used in non-restroom spaces; and monitoring powered equipment to ensure it is capturing and not re-releasing dust into the environment.
“Everything that we do is now wrapped in detailed procedures that enforce not only healthy cleaning standards, but also higher cleaning quality and consistency,” Buckingham said. “In addition, a formal training program on all procedures helps develop our front-line team members into true professionals who understand the science behind our cleaning processes.”
Green Seal’s certification acknowledges that U.Va.’s systems, products, procedures and cleaning practices reduce toxic pollution and waste; increase the health and well-being of building occupants and front-line team members; demonstrate that environmentally responsible products can meet performance expectations; decrease absenteeism due to health issues; and improve learning abilities and resulting test scores.
The certification means parents can feel comfortable knowing that the health, safety and welfare of the students are among the University’s highest priorities and that buildings across Grounds are being maintained to the highest standards, Buckingham said.
“There are so many benefits that are springing from this great achievement,” she said. “But one of my top priorities is to use this experience to elevate the level of respect that is given to those who work so hard to keep our buildings across Grounds clean and our visitors and customers healthy.”
Building Services is one of the largest divisions of Facilities Management and is dedicated to cleaning most of the University’s academic and public buildings across Grounds, as well as providing healthy and clean housing for the students.
For information, email Smith at U.Va. Building Services.