Prince Frederick Hall is a LEED-Gold certified residence facility that opened in fall 2014.
Prince Frederick Hall is a LEED-Gold certified residence facility that opened in fall 2014. CREDIT The University of Maryland

Two different approaches to cleaning, with a single focus on service

At first look, the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park, appears similar to other major universities. Located just outside of Washington D.C., it’s the 29th largest university in the U.S., and home to 40,000 students and 10,000 faculty and staff. With a strong reputation in academics and research, the university was recently ranked in the top 50 best global universities by U.S. News and World Report (2018).

But as you look more closely at the buildings on campus, custodial professionals will quickly notice differences between the way that the residential and the academic facilities are cleaned. Operating under two different management teams and budgets, there are few similarities between the two departments.

For example, one department uses team cleaning, where the other facility team assigns each housekeeper their own floor. One department uses a vendor-managed inventory system, and the other has several suppliers who drop products at its warehouse. One department holds Green Seal’s GS-42 certification, and the other has ISSA CIMS-GB designation.

Artist Ani DiFranco once said, “I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.”

While each department has a different approach, their goal is the same: Support the mission of the university to “provide excellence in teaching, research and service” by providing a safe and healthy environment for learning. With a growing enrollment and the addition of several new buildings, these different approaches seem to be working well.

Cleaning For Campus Life

For more than 15 years, Jeff McGee, REH, has worked as the assistant director of building services in the department of residential facilities. During the last 11 years, he’s been supported by assistant Keith Smith.

Despite its label as a “commuter campus,” the University of Maryland is home to almost 12,000 students who live in 37 dorms throughout the school year — 10,000 of whom are served by the department of residential facilities. In addition to cleaning and maintaining residential areas, the 150 full-time department housekeepers also maintain five recreation buildings on campus, and recently assumed responsibility for two transportation facilities.

Although UMD is a state organization, the department of residential facilities is completely self-supported, funded entirely by student tuition. This gives students a large stake in how facilities are maintained, so numerous committees and groups help facilitate the flow of communication and input between the building services team and students.

Not surprisingly, sustainability has been a key area of focus for students, so McGee and Smith are always looking for ways to improve their environmental footprint and reduce the impact of cleaning processes. One method was to earn certification through the ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS), which was achieved in 2008-2009. At the time, ISSA was in the process of rolling out the new CIMS-GB (Green Building) standard, so McGee and Smith decided to go for that certification, as well.

“The requirements of CIMS talked about equipment and percentages of what is and is not green, and the need to have a green cleaning plan in place,” says Smith. “We went ahead and put those systems in place and were one of the first 13 organizations in the country to achieve the designation. This certification has been a great way to validate our green cleaning program with students.”

Since receiving their original certification in 2009, the department of residential facilities has recertified every other year to maintain the designation. The school also requires any new campus building to be built to a LEED-Silver standard, and the CIMS-GB designation easily allows them to plug into the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED requirements as new buildings come on line. Since earning the certification, they have added two new dormitories (1,200 beds) and will add two additional dormitories by 2022 (900 beds).

Smith feels that having an independent entity certify the organization, according to established standards, helps take the guess-work out of the custodial program.

“Our students are very attuned to what’s going on around them,” says Smith. “With CIMS, they’re easily able to go online and see the criteria for the designation, so they know exactly what is happening within the residential buildings on campus.”

Cleaning In The Zone

To clean residential areas, the management team incorporates a zone cleaning system — creating job assignments for housekeepers based on floors. Each housekeeper is assigned one or more floors and is responsible for cleaning all of the designated areas on each floor, including restrooms, common areas and hallways.

Housekeepers receive training from zone supervisors who cover a specific topic each month. Additional manufacturer training helps keep the residential custodial team up-to-date on new technology, such as reduced-dwell-time disinfectants. Some of that training is offered online where workers can test to earn a certificate of completion.

Finally, distribution and manufacturer suppliers will offer additional hands-on refresher training on an as-needed basis. These sessions often cover specific procedures — such as restroom cleaning — and many times coincide with new product purchases.

Suppliers to UMD’s department of residential facilities are sourced through an annual bidding process. The team works with a state agency to issue the bid, and then contracts with the selected supplier for the next 12 months. While some of the products are supplied on demand, others are stocked in a warehouse on campus and ordered on a weekly basis to restock janitorial closets within the dormitories. Inventory management software is used to track product stock, which is monitored by residential facilities staff.

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