Western Michigan University recently became the fourth university in the United States to receive a Green Seal certification, which recognizes efficient and sustainable custodial practices. Custodial Services has been working diligently to implement green cleaning practices to contribute to a more sustainable campus.
What is green cleaning?
Green cleaning is a new cleaning movement that is defined as cleaning to protect health without harming the environment. Green cleaning takes into account:
- The health, safety and environmental risks of products and processes associated with cleaning.
- The mission and use of the facility to be cleaned and the behavior of the facility occupants.
- The cleaning, maintenance and sanitation needs of the facility and its occupants.
It is an approach to cleaning that involves the use of alternative products, procedures and equipment to reduce environmental and health risks while maintaining a satisfactory level of cleanliness.
Why do we clean green?
Studies have shown that facilities that go green have healthier occupants and employees, higher worker productivity, lower operating costs and a positive environmental impact.
Green cleaning helps improve indoor air quality and reduce health problems that traditional products and processes can cause. With green cleaning, building occupants experience fewer incidences of irritations or sensitivities to the indoor environment.
Healthier employees mean happier employees. Statistics show worker satisfaction, improved morale, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity and efficiency can occur when a facility is maintained using green cleaning processes and chemicals. Employees and customers appreciate knowing that green practices are used in the building they occupy. A green cleaning program helps WMU be the environmentally conscious university it is.
Green cleaning has the same effectiveness as traditional cleaning and has little or no cost increase; the return on investment for switching to green cleaning is immense.
The bigger picture associated with green cleaning is that it is better for the environment. In the United States, commercial buildings consume 17 percent of the water, 33 percent of the energy, 40 percent of the raw materials and 71 percent of the electricity. They produce, directly or indirectly, 40 percent of the landfill waste, 33 percent of the carbon dioxide, 49 percent of the sulfur dioxide and 10 percent of the particulate emissions.
When we take on the responsibility of switching to green cleaning and other green building practices, together we, as a university and a world, can make an enormous improvement to our overall environment—that is why we clean green.
How do we clean green?
Building Custodial and Support Services achieves green cleaning through the use of green equipment, processes and products.
Employing the use of green equipment and processes saves energy and increases productivity. Custodial uses several different types of equipment that allows for buildings to be cleaned effectively, while also promoting sustainability. These items and processes include:
- KaiVac Cleaning Systems.
- CRI Vacuums.
- Clarke CR28 BOOST Rider.
- Strive Rider with Ready Space Automatic Extractors.
- RODI (Reverse Osmosis De-Ionizing) window cleaning system.
Western Michigan University has switched to the use of green paper products within custodial. Toilet paper is 20 percent post-consumer waste and paper towels are 100 percent post-consumer waste as well as 100 percent recycled fiber. Custodial Services also has an ongoing donation program of partial paper product rolls to community service organizations.