When you’re dealing with Harvard University, you know you’re dealing with prestige. Just as education is held in high regard at the university, so is cleanliness.

“Our level of cleaning has to be higher because of our level of visitors,” says Sheila Sheridan, CFM, CFMJ, CPM, director of facilities and services of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Boston.

Sheridan hires building service contractors to clean the 267,000 square-foot, four-building complex that serves 1,600 students, faculty and staff, plus thousands of visitors. And each of those visitors brings with them a different perception of clean. That’s why she, and her counterparts at other prestige properties, set their standards so high. But what can building service contractors do to meet such a strict standard?

“We need a BSC who understands who we are, what we do and wants to be a part of our organization,” says Sheridan.

Clean while being seen
So, what does it take to clean a prestige property?

A secret to maintaining a perception of “clean” is to be seen cleaning. Sheridan lets the building occupants know the cleaning schedule. Occupants know exactly when their office will be cleaned.

“We want [the cleaners] to be seen. Integrate them into the population of the building,” Sheridan says.

Since the JFK School of Government has so much traffic of visitors, public areas are cleaned around the clock. Extra-visible and extra-dirty areas, such as restrooms are cleaned three to four times a day.

Any visible areas that can be cleaned during the day are. Hallways, staircases and entryways are all cleaned during the day shift. But areas near classrooms have to wait until night, as loud equipment such as vacuums will disturb classroom activity.

Prestige means green
Because Harvard has a Green Campus Initiative that teaches students about sustainability — the belief of leaving an environment as one found it — many of JFK’s occupants are very interested in “green” cleaning. Harvard is among university leaders for its green programs. Sheridan’s department is no exception — cleaning, too, must be environmentally friendly.

Currently Sheridan uses green cleaners, paper products and green methods of carpet cleaning. John F. Kennedy School of Government also has an extensive recycling program. One method, however, that didn’t go over well was 1-ply towels. Even though users knew the towels were good for the environment, they felt they were using too many to get cleaned.

But Sheridan is always looking for new green ideas; this is where a proactive BSC can shine.

“Contractors should tell their clients about new ways of green cleaning and shouldn’t leave it up to the building manager,” she says. “But contractors should also be proactive with cost. Don’t just say this is something we can do, but also what the cost is. Have more of a dialogue.”

While its impossible to meet everyone’s distinct vision of cleanliness, it’s important for BSCs to help their customers project the best possible image. When you work for one of the top universities, you have to be at the head of your class.