Custodial Services

We provide customer solutions to benefit the UVA Community and the environment.

Custodial Services staff cleaning

Custodial Services is one of the largest divisions of Facilities Management and provides environmentally-friendly custodial services for the University’s facilities, including academic, medical research, residence halls and faculty housing, and other public buildings across Grounds.

In October 2013, the Custodial Services’ cleaning program was awarded the prestigious Green Seal GS-42 certification. UVA became the first higher education institution in Virginia, and third in the nation, to receive this certification.

Custodial services for the UVA Health System, private clinics and related patient care areas are provided by UVA Environmental Services. The Environmental Services staff can be reached at (434) 982-1555.

Custodial Services gets published in APPA e-magazine!

Attention Facility Coordinators: Housekeeping special event form

Please use the event planning form that corresponds with your zone to submit any housekeeping needs for your next event.

Site-specific manuals address cleaning needs and unique challenges in most UVA buildings

A best practice in green cleaning is to carefully assess each building and develop a plan to address floor surface types as well as any unique cleaning challenge brought on by things such as live plants, animals or poor ventilation. The plan to address these issues is mapped out in the form of a manual and also includes customer communication protocols and policies that govern quality inspections, powered equipment use and what to do in the event of an emergency.

In 2013, UVA’s Custodial Services department received national certification of its cleaning program by Green Seal, the leading organization that sets the standard for approved cleaning products and programs. As part of that certification, we made a commitment to develop site-specific manuals for most of the academic and public buildings where we provide services.

View a sample manual »

To inquire about a specific building manual, contact Sandra Smith, Custodial Services quality assurance and development manager.


Learn about some green cleaning products and techniques to use in your own dormroom or home.

It takes a village

Partner with us to help keep working and learning environments healthier across Grounds.

You can contribute to an environment that supports better attendance, improved productivity and a greater sense of personal, intellectual and professional well-being. Learn numerous tips in the Support a Healthy Environment handout Adobe Acrobat icon.

We’re GS-42 certified! Cleaning for Health ... yours, ours, your building and the environment

Learn more about what it means to be the third university in the nation and first in Virginia to achieve this designation.

Custodial Services has initiated a comprehensive new housekeeping program called Green Cleaning. Green Cleaning is a unique housekeeping program that selects products and implements procedures that are less harmful to the environment. These programs also expose building occupants, visitors and housekeeping personnel to fewer health risks.

Programs that increase indoor environmental quality such as the one being implemented by Custodial Services are proven to reduce absenteeism by as much as 23 percent, increase employee retention by as much as 12 percent and improve productivity by as much as six percent.

The program is a more focused approach on the selection of products and the way that they are used with environment health and safety in mind.

Only products that meet the standards set by such agencies as Green Seal are selected for a Green Cleaning program. Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization that identifies and promotes products and services that reduce pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats and minimize global warming and ozone depletion. Product selection, however, is only the first step. In addition to products, there are also procedural changes. The housekeeping staff adheres to strict, regimented practices for everything they do, from cleaning a mirror to stripping the finish off the floor.

Our primary cleaner is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is used as a glass and mirror cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, carpet spotter, degreaser and neutral floor cleaner.

Custodial Services employees use microfiber cloths as much as possible to dust and clean. The microfiber cloth is such a highly absorbent cloth that many cleaning applications can use only water and a microfiber cloth. We are converting the typical mop bucket and cotton mop to a flat microfiber wet mop with a mop bucket divided between the chemical solution and the picked-up mopping solution. This method avoids contaminating the clean chemical solution with the dirty water picked up from the floor.

Testing continues with zinc-free floor finishes. When zinc floor finishes are stripped off, there is a concern the heavy metal zinc may go into the waste stream.

Whenever possible, Custodial Services utilizes powered cleaning equipment approved by Green Seal and The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). The Green equipment has lower decibel levels than traditional equipment and minimizes water and chemical usage.

Green Cleaning protects health without harming the environment. Applying Green Cleaning at the University of Virginia protects the health of vulnerable populations among students, staff and faculty, parents and visitors and the custodial staff.

By applying Green Cleaning, Custodial Services is cleaning for health and replacing the traditional housekeeping services with a more efficient and environmentally sustainable practice.

The road to GS-42 certification took us to other destinations as well

Discover what else we achieved.

  • Development of staff
    • The science of green cleaning
    • How to work successfully as part of a diverse team
    • How to perform research and identify best practices
    • How to manage a complex project
    • How to prepare and deliver presentations
  • Standards for quality
    • Custodial carts
    • Custodial closets (click to find out more)
    • Cleaning results
    • Customer service (click to find out more)
    • Develop an eye for detail
    • Site specific manuals will detail specific cleaning challenges and plans for each building (click to find out more)
  • Link to performance
    • Department-wide performance goals from associate director to front-line staff
    • Everyone had a role in achieving certification
    • Full team participation helped bring about increased buy-in to new procedures, products and tools

Want to know more about how we measure the quality of clean?

“What gets measured gets managed” is true in all industries. For Custodial Services, we use APPA cleaning levels to help benchmark the quality of our cleaning results.

APPA, the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, defines five levels of clean, with one being cleaning at the highest level and five equating to “unkempt neglect.”

Our goal is to reach the second highest level of clean. To measure this, we designed and use an electronic inspection tool, named the Automated Audit Tool, which is based on APPA standards and appearance levels.

The inspection tool assigns numeric values to multiple items in various space types. In a restroom, for example, the tool primarily assesses the cleanliness of floors, sinks and toilets. Dispensers are also checked to measure re-stocking levels. Each item inspected receives a numeric value and when the total score for the space exceeds 2.5, supervisors are charged with investigating root causes and developing corrective action plans to help move the score closer to the targeted 2 level.

All scores and information collected get deposited into a database that can then be “mined” for reporting and benchmark comparison purposes.

Making it gleam

Find out what happens on Fridays.

I make things GLEAM button

GLEAM Team Fridays! put the shine back in glass, mirrors, brass, wood, flooring and anything else in buildings across Grounds that need specialized deep cleaning. The objective is to spend concentrated time cleaning, polishing and burnishing areas of a building that may not be addressed during normal, routine service. On GLEAM Team Fridays!, staff members provide service on a limited schedule during the morning, so that several hours can be devoted to hardcore, intensive cleaning of elevators, baseboards and corners, brass kick plates and floor drains.

Employees who produce dramatic results are rewarded with an on-the-spot sticker proclaiming “I make things GLEAM!”

Tile before and after being gleamed

Tilework before (left) and after the “gleaming” process.

View a detailed list of what gets “gleamed” »

Front-line staff on the move UP

Learn about our unique Top Performer class.

Twice each year — in the spring and fall — supervisors and managers nominate front-line employees whom they feel demonstrate high potential for more development, skills, knowledge and success.

Tile before and after being gleamed

Fall 2015 Top Performer Graduates (l to r): Leon Kabura, Chris Kenne, Mary Barbour, Sandra Smith (course facilitator), Jimmy Arbogast, Debra Hamm and Norman Hughes.

A six-week course of 90 minutes each week provides 10-12 candidates numerous opportunities to step outside of their front-line duties and focus on improving their skills in multiple areas including:

  • Elevate self-confidence and self-awareness
  • Analyze and solve problems
  • Provide some technical expertise in the science behind ‘green’ cleaning

Games are included in the course including a form of ‘Jeopardy’ that help instill important lessons within the context of fun.

One of the highlights of the course is each participant decides on a goal that is important to him or her and is attainable within the time frame of the course. The course culminates with a group set of Guiding Principles. Signed by each participant and framed, these principles express the most important take-aways for participants as a result of their six-week educational journey. To be included on the list, each principle must be agreed upon unanimously by all participants as an important lesson learned.

Graduates receive a framed certificate and framed copy of their agreed-upon Guiding Principles.

This is How We Do It!” award celebrates the best in our team members

Learn more about this important recognition.

Sample certificate

This is How We Do It! award is presented to front-line team members who demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrates or recommends a “Best Practice”
  • Good, workable suggestion that is implemented
  • Consistent excellence in their work; a genuine concern for quality in everything that they do
  • Understands the customers’ needs and works to meet them consistently
  • Consistent, speedy response
  • Provides help to co-workers (unrequested)
  • Works above and beyond without being asked
  • Improves a work technique, method or procedure
  • Exemplary role model or mentor to others
  • Excellent team player (puts the focus on the team and not themselves)

You can learn more about this award by viewing the This is How We Do It! handout Adobe Acrobat icon.

Going beyond customer service to customer delight

See our roadmap to wowing our customers.

  1. We know who our customers are.
  2. We know what our customers want.
  3. We believe that communication is the foundation for strong, long term relationships.
  4. We believe that it’s important to manage customer expectations so that we are all on the same page when it comes to what is expected and what we deliver.
  5. We listen to our customers and act accordingly.
  6. We empower our staff to own and solve problems.
  7. We realize that details count and that sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impact.
  8. Training means improving and we take both seriously.
  9. We keep our finger on our customers’ pulse — how are they perceiving our services yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Wall of Shine!

Read what our customers are saying about us.

This note is one of the best that I’ve read. I am thrilled because this customer recognized Dora’s initiative, was impressed and then communicated it to us. These words are music to my ears,
“Dora came forward to suggest the action, we agreed a date, she got approval from her supervisor - all done in a businesslike fashion - we were very impressed!” This is a super example of staff taking initiative, my dream come true. Please let Dora know that I thank her for her professionalism and initiative, and Congratulate her for making the department proud.


Thank you for cleaning up after us all summer long! Have a great summer.

iDTech staff

Dear Tanya,
Thank you for all you do to help make UVA Orientation run smoothly. We so appreciate all your efforts and work towards Housekeeping and making our facilities run smoothly. We look forward to working with you again soon!


KUDOS!!! To FM Housekeepers in New Cabell Hall this week.
Please share with the two FM employees in Cabell that their work was recognized. A Classroom staff member requested I meet him in this room-he wanted to show me something.
He explained he had been watching the new housekeepers working for days off and on to get this auditorium cleaned up. He said they were on their hands and knees scrubbing with brushes.
Wilson Hall 402 classroom “auditorium” is spotless.
All levels had been scrubbed clean-the floor under and behind the seats on all rows and all corner spaces have been scraped and scrubbed.
The seats are free of gum, spills and dirt. All the seats have been wiped down-every inch of the seats have been dusted, scrubbed and are shining like brand new.
This room looks honestly marvelous!

Sharon Bingler Drumheller

Hi Judy,
I hope this finds you doing well! I wanted to let you know what a pleasure it is to have Tashi on our floor and that I really appreciate his attentiveness to detail. Twice this week I was pleasantly surprised by things he discovered and cleaned so that I didn’t have to. Earlier in the week, we began a defrosting of the freezer on the staff fridge, which required us to move it out of the office kitchen in 5007. It’s been years since we did this, so of course the floor area was filthy. When I came in the next morning, prepared to get the cleaning materials out, I was happily greeted by a shining floor instead of dust bunnies and dirt! Tashi cleaned it without being asked...he just saw that it needed to be done and took care of it! And then again this morning, I found a clean surface that I was prepared to clean! Yesterday, I had the Bunn coffee maker removed from 5313, with a plan of moving the department microwave up to the counter where it would be easier to reach. The counter was a bit of a mess from where the coffee pot had been sitting unused for a few years. I grabbed all the cleaning supplies and headed in there this morning, only to be greeted by a spotless countertop, which meant that all I had to do was move and clean the microwave!
As you know, he was equally attentive to this level of detail and put in a great deal of effort to keep my office clean when it got moved a few months ago. I’m grateful for his dedicated service and hard work to keep our department looking nice. It’s really great to have someone working with us who can anticipate what we need before I even think to ask for help with it. I don’t always get a chance to see Tashi these days – between my office relocation and the increase in meetings I have to attend with my new role in the department – so I hope you will be able to relay to him my gratitude and appreciation for his hard work.

With best wishes,

I just wanted to give recognition to Tila Kharel for his assistance at the graduation ceremony on Sunday.
As I looked for an appropriate rest room to take my 83 yr old disabled father in a wheel chair to, Tila immediately saw my dilemma and offered to direct me to an alternate restroom in the building. What a relief I felt to have Tila personally escort me, not just direct me where to go! When the restroom had a lighting issue Tila didn't hesitate to offer his personal cell phone as a flashlight; while simultaneously alerting the appropriate electrician to take care of the situation. I didn't bring my personal cell phone with me.
Tila's courteousness and respectful manner made me feel as though I was a VIP and my father recognized Tila's unparalleled service as well. As a corporate executive in his prime, I know he would have handed Tila a handsome gratuity if he could.
With all the pomp and circumstance over, I didn't want this gesture of service to be overlooked. I hope that all the graduates at UVA are as service oriented as Tila in their future professions. Tila's personal attention was much appreciated.
If you have an employee recognition award, I would highly recommend Tila for recognition. So many behind the scenes employees don't get the credit they deserve and I hope Tila would be considered for his actions assisting me and my father.

Beth King

Archive of all “good work!” customer feedback »

Contact information


Vibha Buckingham

Vibha Buckingham
Associate Director
Phone: (434) 924-3336

Ryan Gumlock

Ryan Gumlock
Custodial Services Superintendent
Phone: (434) 243-7782

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith
Quality Assurance and Development Manager
Phone: (434) 243-6319

Area managers

Joe Newton

Joe Newton
Central Grounds
Phone: (434) 924-0539

Tanyia Moore

Tanyia Moore
Phone: (434) 924-3702

Hattie Agee

Hattie Agee
Health System Physical Plant (HSPP)
Phone: (434) 924-6470

Tiffany Morris

Tiffanny Morris
Phone: (434) 924-8822

Reggie McGhee

Reggie McGhee
Southwest McCormick
Phone: (434) 982-4971