Implementing A Green Cleaning Program

What it Means to Be a Custodial Leader in Your School Community

One of Healthy Schools Campaign’s esteemed Leadership Council members, Olivia Claus, director of school facilities and head of the award-winning green cleaning program at Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, gives new hires a rousing pep talk when they start on the job.

“I tell them that they are the school’s ambassadors of health,” says Claus, and adds, “You are more than just a custodian. You are the key to that building’s success and health.”

All too often, school custodial operators aren’t recognized for the weight and importance of what they do. But they are, after all, on the front lines of health in an environment where young and vulnerable occupants spend the majority of their days. And green cleaning presents a unique opportunity for facility team members to galvanize the entire school community around a shared vision for a clean and healthy campus.

Why Green Cleaning?

When it comes to cleaning schools, there are certain ways of doing it that are better for the health of students, staff, the environment and even the building. Those methods are referred to as green cleaning, but they’re also just healthier ways to clean. They include a variety of common-sense considerations that are fully outlined in Healthy Schools Campaign’s 5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools, and include principles like using fewer toxic chemicals, choosing environmentally responsible equipment and considering processes that are sensitive to vulnerable populations.

When schools and universities implement green cleaning programs, the health and safety of everyone in the building is directly impacted. Today, many institutions are counting decreased absenteeism, fewer staff health problems, and happier and healthier teachers as results of their green cleaning programs. Green cleaning is proving something a lot of us in the field have known all along: School facility operators and custodians are a powerful group of experts with the ability to protect or improve public health.

The Healthy Schools Campaign is hosting the Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute in Maryland this July. All school and university facility leaders making a difference in the health and performance of students are invited to attend. The event offers a unique opportunity for school custodians to meet, share ideas and learn from other school facility leaders.

For more information, or to register, visit

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Promoting Healthy Cleaning Practices