Seeking and heeding the advice of outside experts is just one way UGA shows its commitment to being an industry leader in green cleaning. It also makes sure its leaders stay on top of trends.

Thomas is a member of the Leadership Council for Green Clean Schools, which is affiliated with the Healthy Schools Campaign. In that role, she regularly receives updated research about best practices and gets to network with and learn from other facilities and cleaning organizations throughout the country. 

“We definitely talk a lot about what makes a healthy learning environment for students,” she says. “It all boils down to how we can be the best facility gatekeepers to make sure the academic mission is being upheld.”

Leaders in UGA’s facilities management division regularly attend industry trade shows, including the recent ISSA Show in Dallas. They also depend on their distributors for ongoing education. Athens Janitor Supply provides lunch-and-learn sessions and hands-on targeted training. During the summers, Thomas blocks off a floor or two and asks her distributors to bring in the latest equipment on the market. 

“We work with distributors who aren’t just selling product that they don’t know how to use,” says Thomas. “We expect them to show us new things and teach us best practices.”

Many facilities managers aren’t lucky enough to have administrative support for implementing a green cleaning program. In that case, Thomas says, “take a small bite.”

“I would challenge them, even in the absence of a direction, to think about what’s in the best interest of their customers and work from there,” she says. “You can’t do the whole thing at one time. Start small with a pilot program. Gain some success and then continue to expand out.”

The slow-and-steady approach worked for UGA. An initial spend of just $550 eventually snowballed into a respected, industry-leading program that saves the university $414,000 a year. 

Becky Mollenkamp is a freelance writer based in Des Moines, Iowa.

previous page of this article:
The Importance Of CIMS Certification