In October 2009, Residential Facilities passed requirements for 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.
Currently, Residential Facilities is the only university housekeeping program to achieve this certification. Their cleaning program currently relies upon four naturally-based chemical cleaning products, state-of-the-art equipment, and an emphasis upon recycling. Jeff McGee, Assistant Director of Building Services, emphasizes that it’s not just the chemicals, but “everything in the process” that makes a cleaning program truly green. As Keith Smith, Manager of Housekeeping Operations, likes to say “Anyone can buy green chemicals.” The challenge lies in crafting a program that targets improved worker health, improves management and human resources, and demonstrates forward thinking.
During its initial implementation, the green cleaning program encountered pushback from employees. One of the biggest challenges was showing that clear, odorless chemicals can provide the same cleaning power as their perfumed counterparts. As Residential Facilities learned, the key was training, reinforcement, and more training—until green cleaning became entrenched as a workplace and cultural norm.
Now that the cleaning program is established and externally recognized, workers praise its merits and report improved physical well-being. The program benefits both employees and students alike by creating a clean and healthy environment.