Did you know that Harvard’s Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) Custodial Services is the only cleaning service at Harvard — or across Massachusetts — to have achieved Green Seal™ certification, an industry mark of sustainable cleaning practices?  In addition, the Campus Services group is currently the only in-house cleaning service in all higher education to be so certified.  This latest accomplishment is another important milestone in Harvard’s goal to integrate sustainability into all of its daily campus operations.

“Green Seal™ certification is very difficult to achieve,” said Associate Director for Custodial Services Jason Luke.  “This was a multi-year process that required our group to adjust our cleaning products and procedures as well as invest in new equipment.  It really required us to change the way we approach our daily cleaning assignments.”  Staff was also required to complete 24 hours of specialized training in product selection and use, as well as cleaning techniques with new equipment.   

Green Seal™ is a non-profit organization that certifies products and services which meet rigorous environmental safety standards.  The scrutiny applied to product manufacturers and service providers seeking this certification is immense.  For instance, during the application process, Green Seal™ inspectors came to Cambridge to conduct detailed reviews of operations and staff performance.  Custodial Services was also required to submit more than five hundred pages of documentation detailing how its cleaning programs live up to Green Seal™ standards.  So what are some of those standards?

  • Each building must have a customized cleaning program to meet its specific environmental needs
  • Products must be registered as “environmentally preferable” by Green Seal™
  • Procedures must be designed around the environment and health of building occupants
  • Procedures must comply with strict environmental safety regulations

“This is another step in a continuous process of reshaping our operations to be as sustainable as possible.  We sought the Green Seal™ certification precisely because we knew it was the most rigorous and comprehensive set of sustainability standards in the cleaning industry” said Director of Facilities Maintenance Operations Jeffrey Smith. 

As part of Harvard’s commitment to sustainability, Campus Services departments are reducing the environmental impact of Harvard’s campus in a wide variety of ways. For example, FMO Landscape Services is the first university landscaping program in the nation to be 100%, fully organic.  That effort started three years ago with a one acre pilot plot in Harvard Yard is now practiced across the entire 80+ acres of FMO-maintained landscape.

The Campus Services Energy Audit program pinpoints potential energy savings and offers recommendations for improvement.  To date, the program has identified potential GHG savings of nearly 35% (against a 2006 baseline) across more than 1.3 million square feet of building space.  The financial paybacks have been equally impressive, just over $1 per square foot year-over-year energy savings.  This is the only in-house program in the Ivy League to use certified ASHRAE Level II auditors to inspect the buildings, calculate savings opportunities and generate the reports.  “A real key to our success is using our own staff to conduct the audits and leverage the learning across the operations groups that maintain these buildings,” said Jeffrey Smith.

These programs, combined with the Ivy League’s most successful recycling program, underscore Campus Services’ strong commitment to helping Harvard reach its ambitious environmental goals and distinguish the group as a University leader in sustainability.

“Whether its landscaping, green cleaning or waste reduction, the Campus Services groups have been a key part of helping Harvard institutionalize sustainability into the way we work and live,” said Heather Henriksen, Director of the Office for Sustainability.