New UT Cleaning Philosophy Shines

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A new way to clean campus buildings is boosting efficiency as UT switches more office space to its in-house cleaning service.

The Total Cleaning initiative focuses on professional custodial work. It emphasizes nightly cleaning of public areas such as classrooms, lobbies, and bathrooms to give campus buildings an overall improved appearance.

Gordon Nelson“With our goal to become a Top 25 university, we need to improve the curb appeal of our facilities,” said Gordon Nelson, assistant director in Building Services. “To do this we need to invest more time doing professional custodial work.”

As public areas of buildings receive nightly cleaning, private offices are put on a once-a-week cleaning schedule.

“This allows us to spend more time doing professional custodial work in high-traffic areas,” Nelson said.

The system is not only meant to improve the appearance of buildings, but also allows for improved time management.

Sheena Rhea“It enables the service aides to have enough time during the week to take care of all the things that need to be done on their floor,” said Building Services Foreman Sheena Rhea. “But at the same time you’re not spending more time somewhere that is not needed.”

Total Cleaning is part of a bigger Building Services initiative to bring campus facilities back in house instead of using contracted services.

To date, Facilities Services, which oversees Building Services, has transitioned 3.4 million square feet of space back to in-house services. That represents more than one fifth of the building space on campus. The change also has created 116 new positions.

The Total Cleaning program began in the summer of 2012 with the Conference Center Building. All buildings in the program have been equipped with up-to-date professional custodial equipment.

“Our employees like it because they are doing professional work,” Nelson said. “They take ownership of their buildings and we get a lot of compliments.”

While the cleaning system is effective, Nelson urges the campus community to also take responsibility for the overall appearance of UT’s facilities.

“I would like to get to the point where everyone takes ownership,” he said. “We try to do everything in the most sustainable way possible—and it’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute to efforts like recycling.”

Building Services plans make further improvements to the program as it transitions even more building space to in-house cleaning in 2014.

For more information about the Total Cleaning program, visit fs.utk.edu.

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