Green Cleaning

Cornell’s Department of Building Care works to ensure that the facilities on campus are maintained using the safest and most sustainable “Green Seal Certified” cleaning products...

The 20th Annual Building Care Attendance Recognition Awards Ceremony. (University Photography)
The 20th Annual Building Care Attendance Recognition Awards Ceremony. (University Photography)

The cleaning products utilized by our staff are methodically reviewed to ensure the campus community lives, learns and works in a clean, safe and sustainable environment. The University also makes sure to train all employees on the ideal usage of green cleaning products to ensure their ideal use.

Key Objectives

  • We strive to maintain a clean and safe environment for the Cornell Community in which to work and study
  • We utilize cleaning chemicals, equipment and protocol to protect the health of the Cornell community without harming the environment
  • We improve air quality by reducing the amount of contaminants in the air through our custodial maintenance processes
  • We preserve the infrastructure by extending the life of carpeting, hard floor surfaces and other materials through a variety of cleaning methods

Environmental: We minimize the risk to customers by eliminating the use of chemicals whenever possible. When chemicals are necessary, we utilize several "Green Seal Certified" products, including Stride Floral, Aquaria Floor Finish, non-ammoniated Glance, Freedom Floor Stripper and several others. By using microfiber cloths, which can be washed and re-used, the department is able to keep non-reusable items, like cheesecloth, out of the landfills and proper care of flooring and other surfaces helps extend the life of these products, keeping them out of the waste stream and landfills as long as possible.

People/ Social: Ultra-microfiber is hypoallergenic, thus not creating problems with those suffering from allergies or asthma. We also ventilate the area, to the outside if possible, while performing a floor restoration to decrease the effect on building occupants. In order to decrease the number of harmful pathogens, we disinfect areas or surfaces where pathogens can collect and breed, such as restroom door handles, faucets and other surfaces. When a customer does have an adverse reaction or a chemical sensitivity, a formal process is in place to resolve issues quickly and efficiently without a decrease in service.

Future Objectives and Goals: As with all products used by the department, all Green SealTM certified products will be reviewed by Cornell for their effectiveness and safety. This will result in more Cornell buildings becoming "LEED" certified due to points gained through these cleaning practices, as well as a greater campus awareness and satisfaction with the quality and safety of our cleaning. We will continue to partner with building users/ coordinators to explore and execute Green cleaning principles. Building Care is also working with several student groups affiliated with Cornell's Sustainability Office in exploring different ways to improve the sustainability of Cornell facilities.