Skip to main content

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.

This video was created and produced by UVA Facilities Management employee Joe Newton of Cup-a-Joe Films to support and celebrate the milestone accomplishments of the E&G Custodial Services team. This is the sixth in a series of video ‘stories’ that Joe has created to highlight individual and group successes. When he’s not behind a camera, Joe is the manager of E&G's Central Zone, where he and his team manage custodial services for 31 buildings across Grounds.

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

It was a pleasure to meet you this morning! Per your suggestion, I am writing you to let you know about the fabulous work that Sandy Payne does for us in HR at the Michie South Building. Sandy is a very conscientious worker…flexible and helpful! I know we drive her crazy with all of our celebrations and popcorn making we do however Sandy just goes with the flow and is very eager to assist us with any spills or clean ups that we may have. She even provides us with suggestions when needed and smiles as she cleans with one of the best attitudes around! She is a keeper! We need more employees like Sandy who always lead by example to others everyday.

Thank you,
Gretchen Kaufman

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 .

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.

Hello Mr. Katina,
This is William Bray with the Monitoring Station. I just wanted to let you know that myself and many of my colleagues have been thoroughly impressed with Simon’s performance when maintaining our workspace. He is the most thorough custodial worker we have had yet, and has been very diligent in showing up both on time, and being consistent in sanitizing our area. In a time where we need to be extra careful of keeping a clean environment he goes beyond our expectations and we are very glad to have him. Please be sure to pass along our gratitude!

William Bray
UVA Police Dept Monitoring Station

Hi Katarina,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how wonderful Wanda is over here at O’Neil Hall. She keeps this building remarkably clean while always being friendly and professional. I see her working hard both day and in the evenings and I appreciate all she does to keep our work environment a place to be proud to come to each day! It is a pleasure to have Wanda as a colleague.

Kind regards,

Hi Katarina,
I work in the Michie North bldg. I mentioned this to you before, but I wanted to follow up in writing to say how much I appreciate Sandy. When I enter the building it smells clean and I love that. Sandy works hard and always has a pleasant demeanor and attitude. The bathrooms and small with no ventilation and they get a lot of use. Sandy does a good job in spite of that. It’s easy to see she takes pride in her work and she connects to people all the while moving and doing her job. I also remember her from my years in Alderman Library. Sandy hasn’t changed. She still has great work ethic. Please let her know she’s much appreciated and well liked.


It was a pleasure to meet you this morning! Per your suggestion, I am writing you to let you know about the fabulous work that Sandy Payne does for us in HR at the Michie South Building. Sandy is a very conscientious worker…flexible and helpful! I know we drive her crazy with all of our celebrations and popcorn making we do however Sandy just goes with the flow and is very eager to assist us with any spills or clean ups that we may have. She even provides us with suggestions when needed and smiles as she cleans with one of the best attitudes around! She is a keeper! We need more employees like Sandy who always lead by example to others everyday.

Thank you,
Gretchen Kaufman

Dear Brandon,
We would like to start by saying that we are sorry about what happened a few weeks ago with the trashcan.
We want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for us and the attitude with which you do it. We thought it was all of our responsibilities to reach out to you and make things right.
We noticed that you enjoy drawing and are an avid artist, so we hope this gift helps you discover more of your passion.
Thank you for putting up with us!

Dunglison 2L

Archive of all “good work!” customer feedback »

Contact information


Vibha Buckingham

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

Sandra Smith

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

Ryan Gumlock

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

Area managers

Joe Newton

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

Tiffany Morris

Tiffanny Morris
Phone: (434) 924-8822

Tanyia Moore

Tanyia Moore
Phone: (434) 924-3702

Reggie McGhee

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

Hattie Agee

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