GCA Higher Education Honorable Mention
The University of Texas at Austin
Number of students: 51,000
Square footage maintained: 11 million square feet
Number of full-time custodians: 291
Annual cleaning budget: $11 million
Green cleaning team members: Sally Moore, Assistant Director; Seyfi Yazicioglu, Andy Yanez, Operation Managers; Robert Moddrell, Manager Training and Compliance; University of Texas Sustainability Round Table; ManageMen Inc. (OS1)
The University of Texas at Austin began its green cleaning program in earnest with the adoption of the (OS1) Cleaning Process in October 2001. Although the university had engaged in recycling before that time, the 2001 date signified a significant increase in effort toward green cleaning. The Custodial Services Division uses green cleaning programs to clean about 12 million square feet of mixed-use space every day. Its green cleaning is part of an effort to create a sustainable campus that serves all of its stakeholders as well. The university is the largest employer in Austin, and it understands its responsibility to the greater community. As a major university, it also understands its obligation to society as whole. It is with this basic understanding of civic responsibility that the university approaches its cleaning operation.
The university standardizes cleaning as a lean operation using a minimum of equipment and cleaning agents, done by teams of cleaning specialists. It includes strategically designed workloads for each team member, ergonomic equipment, environmentally friendly materials that protect the built environment, and an emphasis on safety. It wants cleaning personnel to think independently on the job, and educates them to do that well. That helps ensure consistent cleaning across a big campus.
The University of Texas at Austin has been a strong supporter and engaged participant in the (OS1) Cleaning Process developed by ManageMen Inc. The program promotes sustainability in actions, purchases and results. Through participation in the program, it is able to obtain best-practice benchmarking from other organizations that prescribe to the exact same process, so comparisons are exact and fully relatable to the program.
ManageMen provides third-party audits annually to ensure the university is following the process, and it is a great opportunity to benchmark performance against other organizations and institutions. In addition, Custodial Services Trainers audit each crew area twice a year: a 512-point inspection. The audits shows how each crew is performing, and the detail opens opportunities to follow up with each crew in their area using their tools and giving attention to any special situations or problems. Ipads are used for these audits in order to reduce paper usage and to provide information in a digitized format.
A team cleaning process enhances worker safety by keeping employees together as a team of specialists working through the buildings. Traditional zone cleaning requires electricity on each floor of a building in order to power all necessary equipment and keep rooms well-lighted. With team cleaning, the team moves through the building floor by floor, so they need electricity only on the floor they are working at the time. Zone cleaning also requires much more equipment, which wastes resources, and increases the carbon footprint of those organizations.
Each building is measured for what is cleanable and what is not. Each specialist is assigned square footage that is based on The Official ISSA 540 Cleaning Times to ensure that the workload is fair and that cleaning can be completed each shift. Job cards are provided that are simple to follow and provide clear expectations. Supervisors are provided detailed information regarding the workloading so that they can adjust schedules easily for whatever reason. The supervisors are trained on how to use the workloading information to ensure fairness to employees and to guaranty that each building is cleaned correctly each shift. Specialists rotate their responsibilities every quarter to ensure that cross-training efforts are maintained and to give each employee an opportunity to enjoy varied types of work.
At the start of a shift, each team checks in at a team meeting. Exact amounts of each chemical and other items are distributed into the inventory for each employee.
Each new employee receives 112 hours of training and education before being assigned to a team of specialist. After that, each one gets 40 hours of refresher training per year. Subjects include Pathogenic Microorganisms; Particulates in Air; Basic Measurements; Safety and Hazards; Searching for Information. The proper use of equipment and cleaning chemicals is demonstrated. Classwork is given in Spanish as well as English, and the university hires American Sign Language interpreters for those who need it.
As with any program that encompasses such a large area and affects so many people, it is critical that the responsibility for the success of the program be shared as broadly as possible.
The staff participates in university-wide events that provide an opportunity for everyone on campus to get to know them and see them as part of the university family. From move-in days to commencement, the staff is there to make the campus a better place.
The staff participates in the university’s Sustainability Round Table Committee, which allows them to bring recycling effort issues to the broader community for buy-in and suggestions. It has presented its program to the university’s Sustainability Symposium and to the university’s Staff Council and plans to have an ongoing presence with these groups.
The staff engages students at every possible opportunity, including using student workers to help with chemical clean outs, issuing safety shoe vouchers, presenting at safety brown bags and in the future, using grad students to help build a training video library.
Opportunities to work with other departments on campus are something that the staff looks for because of the potential of leveraging talents that are particular to that group. EH&S is one group that maintenance works with on a continuous basis for things like controlling workers’ compensation losses and developing custodial specific lab-safety training. Its work with the kinesiology department to develop warmup movements was an opportunity for maintenance to have a professionally developed program and it offered the kinesiology department their first opportunity to develop a program that was to be used by an outside organization.
The staff’s doors and phones are open to the community and it has entertained several benchmarking visits from area independent school districts, local government and many universities from across the country. In several cases, its processes have been adopted by the visiting organization. The ultimate goal is to improve everyone’s work and educational environment.
Association affiliations include APPA, CAAPA, TAAPA, Custodial Management of Texas, OS1, and the American Society for Training and Development. The department has won several awards for its green cleaning efforts.