Sustainability at the University of Maryland


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Green Cleaning Products

Green Seal ™ is an independent, non-profit organization which has developed cleaning industry standards for environmentally acceptable cleaning products, and processes for cleaning commercial, public and industrial buildings. GS-37 products are formulated to have less impact on the environment, are biodegradable, and safer for workers to use. These products are formulated to have less impact on the environment, are biodegradable, and safer for workers to use. Other organizations such as EcoLogo and CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) also provide environmentally preferable certifications for cleaning supplies and equipment. The change to green certified cleaningproducts and equipment was initially led by Residential Facilities which is responsible for maintaining campus residence halls. In the fall 2006, Residential Facilities changed all of their cleaning products to certified green products in all the residence halls.

On of October 8, 2012, the UMD Houskeeping Unit received the Green Seal ™ Certification, indicating that its cleaning practices are among the healthiest and most sustainable in the industry.

In 2008, Facilities Management, responsible for cleaning many of the campus office, laboratory and academic buildings, significantly increased their use of certified green cleaning products and equipment. In addition to maintaining an inventory of CRI certified cleaning equipment; Facilities Management uses the following Green Seal ™ products:

  • All bathroom tissue purchased is GS Certified. Bathroom tissue represents over 15% of Housekeeping’s supply budget.
  • All paper towels purchased are GS Certified. This represents 9.6% of the supply budget.
  • Facilities Management has installed automatic chemical dilution systems in all supply closets. GS Certified glass & multi-surface cleaner, neutral floor cleaner, restroom cleaner and carpet cleaner are all dispensed through this system. With the exception of disinfectant and aerosol cleaners, FM/Housekeeping Services is currently using, or in the process of converting, to all GS Certified cleaning chemicals. These products comprise 8.8% of the supply budget.
  • Facilities management has identified the Kim Engineering building as the site for testing and evaluating two certified floor finish stripping systems and one certified floor finish. One stripping system uses a special floor scrubbing pad with only water, and one uses a GS certified stripping chemical. This product and process was completed during 2009, followed by the conversion to GS Certified floor maintenance products and processes as current stock is depleted. Floor maintenance products comprise 14.3% of the supply budget.
  • Housekeeping Services provides only certified soap in hands-free soap dispensers. Their conversion to hands-free dispensers occurred in 2008.
  • Aerosol cleaners represent less than 1% of the cleaning supply budget; however, aerosols have a negative impact on the environment. As a result, Facilities management has begun to eliminate the use of most aerosol cleaners, converting to Green versions of products such as stainless steel and furniture polishes and carpet stain remover, as current inventory is depleted.
  • All vacuums used by Facilities Management, as well as recently purchased equipment such as dust control floor burnishers, and floor scrubbers which use water only, are CRI certified as environmentally preferable. For future equipment purchases, non-CRI certified equipment will be replaced with comparable CRI certified unit if available.
  • The use of microfiber cleaning cloths has been limited to certain buildings for restroom cleaning. Facilities Management is currently converting from the use of disposable cleaning cloths to reusable microfiber cleaning cloths, as current inventory is depleted.
Squares, Not Rolls

The days of whole carpets are over in the Residential Facilities. Whereas it used to be that an entire carpet was replaced for a single stain, carpets are now made of interlocking squares, often consisting of recycled fiber, which together make up an entire floor carpet. Now when there is a stubborn stain, only one piece of the carpet needs to be replaced, dramatically reducing the amount of waste generated.


Keeping with the idea of reducing waste by replacing a part instead of the whole, Residential Facilities reupholsters damaged furniture rather than buying completely new units. This process cuts down on waste and reduces the University’s consumption of wood since the frame of the furniture is reused.

High Honors for Residential Facilities

Residential Facilities was the first university housekeeping program to achieve the Cleaning Industry Management Standards Green Buildings certification (also known as CIMS–GB) with Honors. CIMS is a designation awarded to organizations that demonstrate compliance with 100 percent of the International Sanitary Supply Association’s mandatory management requirements and at least 60 percent of recommended elements. "Honors" are conferred upon organizations achieving 85 percent or more of the recommended elements. The "GB" specification demonstrates that additional sustainability requirements have been met, corresponding with U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance. Read more.


Green Housekeeping Tips:

  • Don’t waste paper tissue or towels
  • Avoid aerosols
  • Call 301-314-WORK to report leaky faucets, excessive heating or cooling, or burned out ceiling lights