U-M honored for sustainable practices in cleaning program


The university has been awarded the Green Cleaning Award’s first place higher education prize for its (OS1) cleaning program in a competition sponsored by American School & University magazine, the Green Cleaning Network and the Healthy Schools Campaign.

The competition strives to recognize education institutions for their healthy and sustainable approaches to cleaning, protecting the health of both the building occupants and the custodians without harming the environment.

“Health and safety are paramount in our cleaning program,” said John Lawter, associate director for Plant Building and Grounds Services.  “Implementing (OS1) across campus has taken five years and the credit goes entirely to our custodians and management staff. We are very pleased to be recognized for this effort and our commitment to green cleaning.”   

A past GCA Silver winner, PBGS’ green cleaning program began in 2009 with the introduction of the (OS1) program. It debuted in buildings where custodians volunteered  to participate, and is now standard in more than 200 campus buildings and has contributed to LEED certification of seven of those buildings.

The (OS1) program has reduced the number of chemicals used and stored on campus from more than 200 to less than 20. Green cleaning best practices adopted in campus buildings include 65 percent of the chemicals used daily being green certified and the shift to use of microfiber cloths and mops.

Through the program, custodians are taught the science of cleaning as well as hands-on practical applications. Approximately 400 custodians have completed 24 hours of classroom and 90 days of on-the-job training.

“We’re raising the level of professionalism in the custodial industry through the training our staff receives,” said Lawter.  “This training greatly exceeds the industry standard and recognizes custodians as health care workers and first defense against the spread of disease on our facilities.”

PBGS continues to evaluate and fine-tune the program where needed, based upon feedback from customers and custodians. Additionally, as cleaning innovations are developed, new processes are piloted on campus like the use of stone polishing floors in lieu of traditional stripping and waxing.

The (OS1) program promotes sustainable operations and supports the university’s broader commitment to sustainability known as Planet Blue.


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