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Custodial Services

Topic of the month archives

Tiny Trash Bins = Huge Impact!

Mini trash cans

Sustainability is one of four core values in UVA Facilities Management. To support this particular core value, Custodial Services is promoting sustainability through a program of centralized trash collection and removal.

This means the responsibility of trash and recycling removal is being transferred from custodial staff to office occupants. When trash and recycling is managed properly, the reality is trash doesn’t add up to much on a daily or even weekly basis. Through vigilant monitoring, we have concluded that “paper” is the majority content receptacles; through individual conscientiousness and collection, very little will go into landfills. Facilities has begun another pilot to compost food scraps and other organics; this will further reduce trash, and therefore the “tiny bins” will need occupant needs.

Custodial Services is promoting and providing free miniature bins for non-recyclable and non-compostable contents. And, to add a splash of fun, the tiny trash bins, which are only a little over four inches high, come in assorted colors!

While a large benefit to centralized (DIY) trash is landfill reduction, there are two other significant pluses. First, for every 1000 office occupants who retire their regular trash can and cease use of plastic liners, UVA  will save $6000 per year. Second, custodians will apply saved time to higher impact work in rest rooms, lobbies, etc. Or maybe just spend a few extra minutes improving the shine on that mirror or glass table top.

Occupants in any building can ‘take the first step’ and trade-in their regular trash can for a tiny bin. They can contact their building supervisor and ask them to do the exchange on any given day and receive this bin in a color of their choice.

Bottom line: This is a very achievable and painless change that everyone can make and at the same time, make a significant contribution to landfill reduction, cost savings and increased attention to higher priority cleaning tasks. Tiny trash=huge impact!

If you want to exchange your trash can for a tiny bin, please call the housekeeping supervisor for your building or send a request via email to Sandra Smith,

Introducing another tool to enhance our services in your building:
site-specific manuals

UVA Minor Hall

In order to reach national certification of its cleaning program by Green Seal, an organization has to look closely at its building and develop procedures that support the health and welfare of all occupants as well as sustain building materials used in its construction. Called a site-specific manual, this document goes beyond generic “how-to’s” to really focus in on the unique set of characteristics in a building that demand specialized attention.

One segment of the manual addresses how to care for all of the floor types in a building. So, how a cork floor is cleaned (product and technique) is very different than that being required by marble or slate.

Another area that is covered in the manual deals with customer communication. How and how often we seek customer feedback is an important part of making sure we’re meeting their needs and expectations or clarifying for them what in fact our service package includes and in some cases, excludes.

Sometimes different buildings possess unique characteristics that require special handling from a cleaning perspective. A building may house a health clinic. Or include decorative live plants. In some cases there are even birds and animals! All of these situations require some unique product or procedure to ensure cleaning results meet the standards required for certification.

How we handle emergencies while in the building and a commitment to protect occupants who are considered “vulnerable” to fragrances, chemicals or noise are all spelled out in this document as well.

For the last six months, Custodial Services supervisors have been compiling information toward developing a manual for each of their buildings. Most of the manuals will be available for electronic distribution by mid-February. If you’re interested in receiving a copy of the manual for your building, please email Custodial Services Quality Assurance and Development Manager, Sandra Smith (

Students and Sustainability: A Caring Partnership

UVA students gathering recyclables during a dumpster dive event

As we make our way into the 21st century, a new wave of young minds is flowing into both state and private higher education institutions. This generation is one that appears to be more interested in the preservation and health of our environment than any of their predecessors. They understand the need to preserve our environments, protect our planet and consider the impact of products on our personal health.  From recycling programs to safe cleaning chemicals, these young adults know more about sustainability than most of us ever imagined. Even more impressive, they care!

  • In a recent survey of 1,700 prospective students in the state of Virginia by the Worcester Business Journal, 13.5% were likely to select a university based on sustainability programs.
  • 23% would be influenced by a strong sustainability program according to the Princeton Review’s College Hopes and Worries Survey.
  • 61% of prospective students were interested in the sustainability programs and “the school’s commitment to the environment”, according to the Princeton Review.
  • UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute conducted a survey of 240,000 students at over 300 institutions and over 45% stated that they would “adopt green practices” at their respective institutions if presented to them.

What does this tell us?

  • Thousands will factor sustainability into their decision on what  school to attend
  • Almost a quarter of students will be influenced by a sustainability program
  • Three out of five are interested in sustainability programs
  • Almost half will participate in sustainability programs if given the opportunity

Here at UVA, we are committed to the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff. It’s why we pursued and acquired Green Seal certification of our cleaning program. It’s why we developed over 50 procedures to define the how and why behind what we do. It’s why we are committed to using sustainable products and tools. It’s why we place such a high priority on continued training.

It’s not enough for us to follow others in the pursuit of cleaning for health. Our goal is to lead. Whether it’s EPA approved trash liners, elimination of bleach, a mission to replace products that mask odors with those that remove them, we strive daily to “… provide services with your health, safety and the environment in mind.”

The miracle of microfiber

Microfiber cloth
  • It lasts and lasts and lasts — up to 500 launderings and more.
  • Its fibers are vertical which helps get into all of the “nooks and crannies” where dirt tries to hide.
  • Microfiber removes dirt, grit and grime instead of moving these impurities from one location to another.
  • It comes in task-specific colors to help avoid cross-contamination. This means that the colors of microfiber that we use in restrooms (red, yellow and yellow w/red trim) are not used in any other space that we clean.
  • Because its vertical fibers are slightly stiff, microfiber can sanitize surfaces using only water by generating agitation/friction that removes substantial amounts of dirt, grit and bacteria.