CASE STUDY: Cleaning Brings Meaning to UAlberta’s Colors, Green and Gold
Green cleaning is one of the most significant developments in the professional cleaning industry. As long-time advocates for sustainability, the University of Alberta recognized that we were responsible for our cleaning products and systems. The University began this process over ten years ago.
Only recently have post-secondary institutions begun to invest in sustainability initiatives. The University of Alberta is leading the way with decades of effort invested in developing and implementing sustainability practices. Among the more significant opportunities to reduce the University’s environmental footprint and meet the goals of our sustainability plan, are day-to-day janitorial services. Ten years ago, the University demonstrated its environmental commitment by launching the green cleaning program, Cleaning for A Healthy U, which included the adoption of sustainable cleaning tools and practices, designed to minimize the exposure of building occupants to contaminants and pollutants.
Several years ago, the University moved to reduce the overall impact of its cleaning processes by procuring EcoLogo-recognized cleaning products. EcoLogo provides customers with third-party assurance that the products and services bearing the logo meet stringent standards of environmental leadership. The products include paper goods, detergents, hand soap, and garbage bags.
Another strategy, undertaken by the University, includes piloting a hand-towel composting program in select buildings. The goal of the program is to reduce the overall amount of paper products sent to the landfill by diverting it to a compost facility.
Green cleaning is not limited to products; but also includes the equipment and processes used by staff. The University, in partnership with Bee-Clean Building Maintenance and Wesclean, has complemented our efforts to minimize consumable products by leveraging equipment designed to reduce energy use. This equipment includes 40 NaceCare Henry vacuums, which consume 33 percent less electrical energy than conventional vacuum cleaners. This is equivalent to 20 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide or annual greenhouse gas emissions from 4.2 passenger vehicles.
The University further reduces its environmental footprint by using the Tennant ecH2O Autoscrubber that now replaces manual mopping (think of these machines as the Zamboni for hallways and classrooms). The Tennant ecH2O Autoscrubbers are chemical free; they use ionized water, eliminating the need for synthetic cleaning products, and use 70 percent less water than conventional equipment. This program helps our campus meet the standards required for a variety of green building certification programs.
By eliminating the use of unneeded chemicals, using green cleaning products, leveraging innovative equipment, and delivering leading edge training programs, the Cleaning for A Healthy U program establishes the University of Alberta as the clear leader in sustainable operations in post-secondary institutions and beyond.
Programs like this are why the University of Alberta is recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers (since 2009), and why it has received a Silver Rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
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