The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is the nation’s first university certified for its green cleaning practices.
The certification, granted by the Green Seal organization — the nation’s leading environmental certifier — puts UT at the forefront of efforts to make the work of campus cleaning an environmentally friendly process.
Green cleaning is a comprehensive approach in which practices affect every part of the cleaning process, from how employees are trained to the types of cleaning chemicals used.
The certification — known as GS-42 — applies to the seven buildings on the UT campus that are cleaned by UT personnel. In addition to the green cleaning certification for these buildings, UT has worked with contract cleaners in other campus buildings to use Green Seal-certified materials in the cleaning process.
"We have made a determined effort to make our campus one of America’s greenest," said UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree. "The fact that we are the first university in the country certified in green cleaning is another sign of our success."
UT began using green cleaning products more than a year and a half ago and the green cleaning processes have been in place for around a year, according to Mike Sherrell, executive director of UT Facilities Services. The certification process is highly detailed, requiring UT to document its processes and materials. In addition, an auditor from Green Seal visited UT in October to verify the university’s work.
The certification requires that UT conduct extensive planning to make the cleaning process more efficient, including communication with clients and effective equipment maintenance. In addition, the certification requires that all products used in the cleaning process be environmentally friendly.
One of the most important aspects of the certification requires that all cleaning staff receive 24 hours of training annually, helping ensure that all procedures are followed in the best manner possible.
"Certification under GS-42 proves that a service uses products and equipment that have less impact on the environment, and has adopted processes and procedures that help protect the health of workers as well as building occupants," said Mark Petruzzi, Green Seal vice president of certification.
Green Seal is the nation’s leading independent certifier of environmentally friendly products and services.
The green cleaning certification is the latest part of UT’s Make Orange Green environmental program. Make Orange Green is UT’s environmental awareness initiative. The program is designed to spread the word about UT’s environmental efforts and encourage faculty, staff and students to take part. Other UT environmental successes:
- UT is the largest purchaser of green power in the state of Tennessee, and the fourth largest in the Southeast.
- UT’s Facilities Services Department fuels its vehicles with biodiesel fuel made by a group of UT students from waste oil generated in campus dining facilities.
- UT is home to the largest on-campus athletic recycling program in the nation, Good Sports Always Recycle.
- Overall recycling on the UT campus continues to rise, with more than 1,000 tons of materials recycled last year. UT shined in last year’s RecycleMania competition, recycling more paper and cardboard than any other participating Southeastern Conference member school.
To learn more about Make Orange Green and UT’s environmental efforts, visit http://environment.utk.edu. For more information about UT’s Green Cleaning program visit http://www.pp.utk.edu/greencleaning/.
More information on Green Seal is available at http://www.greenseal.org.