Green Cleaning at Georgia Tech

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Green Cleaning Manual

A Healthier Way to Clean

When very few institutions were considering the harmful impacts of traditional cleaning products, Georgia Tech was systematically removing toxic chemical cleaners and replacing them with healthier and more environmentally friendly products. Certain ingredients in cleaning products can present hazard concerns to exposed populations. Young people, especially those with asthma, are at a high risk from chemical exposures from conventional cleaning products; if children are sick, they cannot learn.

Our Georgia Tech Green Cleaning program reduces chemical exposures and supports positive outcomes by

  • Protecting students' and other building occupants’ health, thereby putting our students in a better position to learn.
  • Protecting the health of custodial staff who work closely with the cleaning supplies.
  • Protecting the environment by reducing potentially hazardous chemicals from being released.
Green Cleaning Demonstration

Executive leadership listen to a Green Cleaning demonstration by Tommy Little.

How Do We Do It?


  • Wind power is utilized for paper towel production.
  • Micro-fiber mops and rags, as well as Green Seal certified cleaning agents are utilized. 
  • Purchasing policies are regularly updated to support the procurement of green products and supplies.
  • Custodial staff undergo continuous training on green cleaning methodology and benefits, as well as how to minimize impacts to “vulnerable population” occupants such as children.
  • Backpack vacuums that have high-filtration, quiet operation and exceed HEPA requirements are employed throughout campus.


Did You Know?

Our Commitment to Wind Energy


Our Commitment to Wind Energy

Georgia Tech Building Services is pleased to announce its commitment to purchasing products made with Green, E-certified renewable wind power from Community Energy. By committing to use products made with wind energy, Georgia Tech Building Services is making a difference by supporting cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more.

Savings for Our Planet and the Bottom Line


Savings for Our Planet and the Bottom Line

After fully implementing the green cleaning program, a cost-savings analysis revealed an annual savings of 84% over initial baselines. Comparable savings have been met year after year from reduced water usage, less chemical purchasing and new technology adoption. The recent increase in chemical costs is the result of the recent rise in the price of certain chemicals and the increase in chemical square footage (i.e., adding building EBB as a mini-custodial zone increased the usage of chemicals.)

  • Green cleaning equipment includes efficient scrubbers that employ foam cleaning, using 70% less water and 90% less chemical than traditional equipment.
  • Georgia Tech operates its own in-house laundry to wash micro-fiber mobs and rags; replaced residential washing machines (28 gallons of water per load) with front-load washers (14 gallons of water per load).
  • 56% reduction of chemical usage from 2008 through 2014. 
Green Seal Certified


Green Seal Certified

Georgia Tech's Green Cleaning program is independently certified under both Green Seal Standard GS-42 and ISSA CIMS-Green Building.

  • Protects Human & Environmental Health:  The program uses nontoxic, biodegradable housekeeping products and limits worker's and occupant's exposure to chemicals and contaminants
  • Operates Efficiently:  The program implements building-specific operating procedures
  • Provides Education:   The program trains custodial staff on effective cleaning, and safety/procurement officers on green purchasing
  • Communicates Effectively:  The program communicates with owners, managers, and occupants to insure efficient and effective cleaning
  • Reduces Waste:  The program implements a recycling program and uses minimally packaged, recyclable,and reusable materials
  • A Green Service That Cleans: Evaluated for effective cleaning procedures and practices

For more information visit and ISSA CIMS FAQ.

Georgia Tech Green Cleaning Awards and History

Awards Timeline
  • 2019 CIMS - GB Certification with Honors
  • 2017 & 2018 Green Seal Certification
  • 2016: Georgia Tech's Green Cleaning program is independently certified under Green Seal Standard GS-42
  • 2015: Green Cleaning Award for American Schools & Universities (Grand Award, highest honors) 
  • 2013 & 2014: Most Green Award Georgia Tech Earth Day
  • 2010: Green Cleaning Award for American Schools & Universities (Honorable Mention)
  • 2010: Expanded program to 160 tier-one custodians
    • Reduced number of cleaners used, simplifying the green cleaning program with a cost-effective option.
  • 2009: Established a pilot program using ionized water with 25 custodians
    • Assigned handheld sprayers tracking them with a sign-in/sign-out procedure.
  • 2008: Wind energy utilization in the production of paper towels and tissue products
  • 2008: Environmental Leadership Award Georgia Tech Earth Day
  • 2008: National Wildlife Federation Award for exemplary program in sustainability
  • 2007: Most Informative Green Award Georgia Tech Earth Day
  • 2007: Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities (Runner up)
  • 2006: APPA  “Effective & Innovative Practices Award”
  • 2003: First-stage green cleaning implementation
    • Removed toxic chemical cleaners and replaced them with more environmentally friendly products.

What Is Ionized Water and How Does it Work?


Ionization, a process also known as electrochemical activation, was discovered by British scientist Michael Faraday in the 1830s. The process utilizes an electrical charge to energize a mixture of tap water and natural minerals to create a powerful cleaner, degreaser and sanitizer. 

  • Powerful Sanitizer that is 80-200 times stronger than bleach, but without the harmful side effects. It is safe for plants, animals and people.
  • Used in Health Care to treat wounds and burns, therefore non-toxic.
  • Used to sanitize fruits, vegetables and other foods throughout the food industry. 
  • Kills 99.99 percent of harmful bacteria in less than 10 seconds.

Bill Nye The Science Guy explains the ionized water process, and its relevance to green cleaning.