Entrance sign to the campus of the University of Michigan

The University of Michigan’s Housing Facilities Department recently was awarded the Silver Green Cleaning Award in the higher education category by the Healthy Schools Campaign, American School & University magazine and the Green Cleaning Network, according to an article on the Green Clean Schools website.

The university’s recent green cleaning initiatives include a switch to engineered water, a pilot residence hall composting program, a campaign to engage cleaning staff with student awareness and a comprehensive plan to protect indoor air quality.

According to Vicky Hueter, Director of Housing Facilities Operations at University of Michigan, they are one of the first university departments in the state to be using the engineered water technology.

In addition, her department now saves about $50,000 a year on cleaning agents. When students leave campus for the summer, the facilities team needs a stronger cleaning agent than engineered water for dorm restrooms and showers.

For these tough jobs, the department looks for the safest, greenest alternatives possible, Hueter said. They look for chemicals that are third-party certified and try to find the products with the lowest ph levels possible.

“The higher the pH levels we have found the more caustic the chemical,” Hueter said in the article. “And that has a higher possibility of staff injury or even denaturing surfaces. But the main thing was public safety, and we want to protect our indoor environment.”

All equipment used by University of Michigan’s facility’s department has to meet high filtration standards. Backpack vacuums with six different levels of filtration are used to reduce the release of toxins and irritants back into the environment.

The department uses no aerosols and the lowest pH products available — and only whenever necessary.

The Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities recognizes schools and their facility staffs for promoting clean, healthy and sustainable buildings. Applications for the next round of awards will be available soon on the Green Clean School website.

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