For This Leader, There’s No Other Way to Clean Than Green

Gene Woodard, Director of the Building Services Department at the University of Washington in Seattle, is one of seven members recently appointed to our Green Clean Schools Leadership Council. The Green Clean Schools Leadership Council brings together award-winning school facility managers to provide up-to-date guidance to us here at HSC on new developments in green cleaning as well as to directly advise other school facility leaders.

It’s In His Nature

Woodard’s team doesn’t call their cleaning program green anymore. Because for them, there is no other way to clean. “It’s just what we do; sustainability is in our nature now,” says Woodard.

“In early 2003, we decided that we wanted to develop a policy to incorporate green cleaning into our training and move in a strategic direction,” recalls Woodard. They stuck true to the mission even though the State of Washington was entering a recession and custodial service funding was reduced by 26 percent between 2007 and 2011. In spite of the drastic reduction in money, the school was still able to win the Green Cleaning Award for Schools and Universities Grand Award in 2007, 2010 and again in 2014.

So what made this Grand Award-winning cleaning department decide to apply again and again? “We applied only when we thought we had made significant progress from our initial experiences winning,” recalls Woodard. That’s a lot of progress in a short amount of time. An overarching theme in the evolution of Woodard’s approach has been his ability to stretch the concept of green cleaning and incorporate sustainability. And now it’s just in his nature.

Take It to the MiniMax

One example of how Woodard has been able to incorporate sustainability into his cleaning program is the MiniMax Waste Reduction Program, launched at The University of Washington in 2008. The name is a play on the idea of minimizing waste and maximizing recycling. In this program, all office trash cans with small liners were eliminated. Woodard’s team started by getting rid of 3,000 waste containers in 2008, and today they have eliminated 9,000. Without deskside receptacles, office occupants are responsible for carrying the small amount of trash they produce at their desk to properly designated and strategically located composting, recycling and waste receptacles. This frees up significant man hours for Woodard’s staff, gets building occupants involved in controlling where their waste goes and eliminates thousands of liners from landfills per day. In 2012, Woodard’s team expanded MiniMax with a pilot restroom paper towel composting project.

What Woodard loves most about his program’s success is the sense of pride it gives his team. “We’re providing a safe environment and doing it in a green and sustainable way,” he says. “It’s the overall elevation this has for the people on my team that really makes me happy.”

Connect With the Council

Woodard is joining forces with Healthy Schools Campaign and six other leaders in the field to provide in-depth, focused and comprehensive green cleaning guidance to schools across the country as part of the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council. Fill out our program assessment to begin your relationship with the Council and to start learning from award-winning experts like Woodard. The Council’s guidance is customized to your program’s needs and desires, plus it is completely free of charge. If you have any questions about the Council, contact Mark Bishop at