The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) recently became the first higher education institution in Maryland, and the second in the nation, to achieve the prestigious Green Seal GS-42 Certification for cleaning service providers. Green Seal, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C., is the leading, independent provider of certification and science-based standards for cleaning to protect health and the environment.

“Protecting the environment and the health of our students is a vital part of our mission” according to Harry Teabout, Director of Facilities and Grounds at UMCP. “Achieving Green Seal certification represents a multi-year effort that included training for our managers and supervisors, adoption of new cleaning processes, use of Green Seal certified chemicals with low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and the use of high-efficiency vacuums and floor cleaners. All of these efforts help to improve the environment and our indoor air quality.”

Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency  and Cornell Medical School  have documented that adoption of high-performance green cleaning practices can reduce doctor’s visits and absenteeism in schools.

UMCP Facilities managers and supervisors completed a 24-hour training program from the Building Wellness Institute, an independent third party organization that prepares organizations for the Green Seal certification process. The university underwent a detailed audit of its cleaning processes, procedures and business practices as part of the GS-42 certification process. “Green Seal certified chemicals, high-efficiency cleaning equipment, and ongoing training programs were provided by our vendor partner Daycon Products Co, Inc, in Upper Marlboro, MD,” said Mr. Teabout.

“The University of Maryland and Harvard University–the only other Green Seal Certified university–have successfully integrated the protection of human health into their sustainability strategies,” said Marion Stecklow, Executive Director of the Building Wellness Institute. “Hopefully, other universities will follow the example set by these leading institutions, a growing number of K-12 schools and commercial cleaning contractors.”