The University of Washington has been awarded the 2014 Grand Award for Higher Education in the Green Cleaning Awards by American School & University magazine. This is the third time the UW has been honored with a Green Cleaning Award - the university also won the Grand Award in 2007 and a Co-Grand Award along with the University of Georgia in 2010.
The magazine cited UW's Building Services Department for continuing to improve even after winning in 2010. According to the award release, "the department has focused on sustainability, merging custodial services with the Recycling & Solid Waste Department and adopting a range of green practices. A formal “Green Cleaning Policy” was established to both protect the environment and reduce exposure of building occupants and custodial personnel to potentially hazardous chemical contaminants that adversely impact air quality or impede occupants’ well-being."
The UW has 256 custodians who maintain 11.5 million square feet of campus buildings. Among other sustainable practices, Building Services switched from cotton rags to microfiber cloths in 2009 to minimize water and chemical usage. The department uses green cleaning options and "dry" steam vapor technology to sterilize without chemicals. Each year, custodial training covers several green procedures, and almost all staff work during the day to minimize overnight electical use.