facility clean

Five Steps to a Green Cleaning Program

Five Steps to a Green Cleaning Program


OGS has broken down the creation and implementation of a comprehensive Green Cleaning Program into five steps: groundwork, assessments, planning, implementation, and evaluation. This provides a logical flow from getting you started to a working program. Brief descriptions of each step are provided below and additional details can be obtained by clicking on the highlighted text. Visit the Customizable Documents and Templates section of the OGS website for helpful tools that can be used for each of the five steps.

Note: These steps provide guidance in implementing a Green Cleaning Program and are meant to be used in any manner that best meets your needs, from following every aspect in detail to using only those parts or forms that you deem necessary or appropriate.

Step 1 - Groundwork

The first step is to build a Green Cleaning Team (Team) that includes at least one representative from each of the facility’s stakeholders groups. The Team will work to develop a Green Cleaning Program (Program) that meets the needs of the facility and stakeholders, and build support of the Program.  This step includes the following: 

  1. Identifying key stakeholder groups who may have an interest in, and will take ownership of, the Program and contribute to its success.  These groups may include administrational and non-administrational staff, custodial staff, labor unions, faculty, students, school nurses, school board, Parent Teacher Association. The school or state Health and Safety Committee should include representatives of these groups and may be able to help develop or enhance the green cleaning program. Alternatively, a separate green cleaning team should be created, so that representatives of the community's groups can come to a consensus on green cleaning policies and procedures during program development.
  2. Identifying candidates for the Team who will participate in development and implementation of the Program.  The Team should have representation from each identified stakeholder group.  Appoint a Team leader to manage and coordinate Team activities and keep the Program on track.
  3. Establish stakeholder buy-in and ownership of the Program. Educate stakeholders on the benefits of a Green Cleaning Program and the steps for implementation. Identify and promote stakeholder contributions to the Program using informational brochures, presentations, office/school newsletters, school board meetings, or any other avenues of communication. Schools may download a school specific informational brochure and the Introduction to Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning Programs literature from the OGS Customizable Documents and Templates web page to use for this purpose.
  4. Hold a Team kick-off meeting to establish the roles and responsibilities of each Team member and the stakeholder group they represent.  Be open and transparent. Allow Team members and stakeholders to codify and agree on their obligations.  Remind them that their roles and responsibilities have a direct impact on making the Program a success.


View Customizable Documents and Templates here:

Step 2 - Assessments

The facility Green Cleaning Baseline Assessment (Assessment) helps the Team compare existing cleaning practices with green cleaning practices, and identifies both strengths and areas for improvement.  The Team should use the results of the Assessment to identify possible goals and objectives for the Program. The Assessment should examine the following:

  1. Facility Physical Layout and Population
    • Facility characteristics or qualities that may affect the facility Green Cleaning Program (i.e., areas with worn flooring/carpets, faulty drains, poor ventilation, and humid areas).
    • Building entryway walk-off mats.
    • Numbers of administrative staff, employed staff, special needs people and other individuals that occupy the facility.  For schools, the number of students and their grade levels should be noted.
    • Number of full-time and part-time custodial staff.
    • Extracurricular activities or other programs held at the facility outside the normal operational hours. 
    • Number of full-time and part-time custodial staff.    
    • Following appropriate protocols to ensure individuals’ rights to privacy, identify available data on student and faculty health and worker safety —number of used sick days, nurse office visits due to respiratory illnesses (asthma attacks), and on-the-job injuries and accidents related to chemical use and cleaning activities.       
  2. Custodian Training
    • Document the current training program for custodial staff.
    • Review each custodian’s training record and list the subject, type and date of training completed.
  3. Cleaning Program, Procedures and Relevant Protocols and Policies
    • Identify cleaning procedures and practices, or any other school policies that may be relevant to the Program.
    • Conduct cleaning product inventories that include chemical products, mechanical equipment, and non-mechanical equipment.  For assistance on inventories, use the inventory spreadsheets found in the OGS Customizable Documents and Templates section of this website.
    • Assess cleaning requirements specific to special needs populations such as special education students.
    • Assess cleaning requirements specific to populations with special needs or other health considerations.
    • Review building maintenance complaints as well as positive feedback to identify existing problems or areas of strengths.
    • Document the frequency of custodial tasks and procedures; include the type and amount of chemicals used each month.
    • Conduct a housekeeping survey to determine the building occupants impression on the quality of custodial services.
    • Ask custodial staff to provide input on cleaning products, procedures, resource availability, and other topics regarding facility cleaning that may affect development and/or implementation of the Program.
    • Specific areas within a facility require higher levels of cleanliness than others.  Determine the “accepted levels of clean” (ALCs) necessary for certain areas and address ways to meet these requirements.  Note:  A list of cleaning levels often used by the custodial industry can be found in the Custodial Cleaning Level Audit form in the OGS Customizable Documents and Templates section of this website.  The levels in the form originate from Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities (Second Edition) published by APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers. This publication outlines a method to determine custodial levels based on levels of cleanliness and square feet of facility—it can be very helpful in the Assessment process.


View Customizable Documents and Templates here:

Step 3 - Planning

The core of the Program is based upon the findings of the Assessment. From the Assessment, the Team can do the following:

Identify goals and objectives.Obtainable goals and objectives are critical aspects for implementation of a successful Program. They establish the focus and direction of the Program as well as providing references to determine the success of the Program. Using green cleaning best practices (see the OGS Best Practices section of this website), follow these steps:

  • List the facility’s strengths and areas for improvement;
  • In each area of improvement develop goals and objectives; and
  • Establish measurable benchmarks that assess the Program’s goals and objectives   

Identify and document custodial resources and budget needs to accomplish the goals and objectives.

Prioritize the Program’s goals and objectives. List in order the goals and objectives that will produce immediate results and the greatest potential gain, that are easiest to demonstrate or measure, and are most cost-effective to implement. Remember to consider the resources and budget available to implement the Program. From this prioritized list, the Team can decide which goals and objectives to implement in the Program.

Establish a timeline for completing each of the goals and objectives of the Program.

Compile a draft Program and seek feedback from the facility stakeholders.

Review stakeholder comments and implement appropriate changes.


View Customizable Documents and Templates here:

Step 4 - Implementation

While the Program is being implemented, the Team should:

  • Hold Team meetings regularly to discuss Program progress and address any problems that arose.
  • Communicate progress to stakeholders via scheduled meetings, orginzations involved with the facility (i.e., Parent Teacher Associations), facility newsletters, facility websites, or other avenues of communication.
  • Evaluate and inspect custodial work to ensure adherence to cleaning procedures outlined the Program, and solicit feedback from custodial staff.
  • Conduct cleaning level assessments to determine if the accepted levels of clean (ALCs) are being met.  Facilities can download and use the Custodial Cleaning Level Audit form to determine if custodial staff is maintaining appropriate levels of clean.
  • Perform routine housekeeping satisfaction surveys to measure Program effectiveness.  An example survey can be downloaded from the OGS Customizable Documents and Templates section of this website.
  • Provide a feedback system that allows stakeholders to submit suggestions, questions, or concerns.
  • Document lessons learned (aspects that do not work well and others that do) from implementing the Program. Lessons learned will be helpful for updating and modifying the Program.
  • Assess the Program’s measurable benchmarks at established intervals to determine if the Program is on track.
  • Reinforce the importance of stakeholder contribution to the Program’s success by rewarding stakeholder groups (including custodial staff and building occupants) for their contributions. Incentives and rewards could be office/class room pizza parties, gift certificates, “green employee/student of the month” awards, and special parking privileges, Publicize these incentives and rewards to the facility population.


View Customizable Documents and Templates here:

Step 5 - Evaluation

A facility should evaluate Program progress based on the timeline created during Step III.  This evaluation reveals if the facility has met the goals and objectives set by the Program.  The Team assesses the Program’s success by measuring benchmarks set for the various goals and objectives.  The Team should document the accomplishments and challenges, and update stakeholder groups on the Program’s progress.  Based on the findings of the evaluation, the Team should revise the Program to address needed changes and incorporate new goals and objectives.  The updated Program undergoes implementation and is reevaluated after a period of time.


View Customizable Documents and Templates here:

Additional Training Forms