Impact on Learning

University of Colorado

Project Snapshot

PROJECT: Sustainable Cleaning Initiative
INSTITUTION: University of Colorado


The University of Colorado maintains a strong reputation as an environmental leader. As part of its sustainability initiatives, the university wanted to take advantage of environmentally friendly facilities solutions — supporting the university’s broad cleaning needs, eliminating the reliance on harsh chemicals and streamlining its facilities procurement processes.

“We knew we could be smarter about how we manage our facilities operations — and be more green,” says Sandy Hicks, assistant vice president and chief procurement officer with the University of Colorado. “The key was to find the right partner with the right competencies to help us build an enterprise-wide program with standardized products and processes.”

The university issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) with a cross-campus committee evaluating submissions from nine vendors based on several criteria, including program implementation, training, product sustainability and price. Staples Advantage received the highest score among the group, moving the company into the final evaluation phase along with three other vendors.

The University of Colorado then conducted a blind cleaning test on the Boulder campus, using glass, multipurpose floor and disinfectant solutions from each of the vendors. Again, Staples was the front-runner in the group.

University of Colorado

University of Colorado

The University of Colorado stands as a leader in sustainability, including its facilities operations. After evaluating submissions from nine vendors based on several criteria, the university chose Staples to supply and support its green cleaning needs. The result is a healthy learning environment for students.


Staples worked with each campus to swap out old products with new, while simultaneously conducting on-site training for all custodial staff. As many of its employees speak English as a second language, Staples provided training materials in a variety of languages — a huge selling point for the university. The end goal was to create and enforce consistent cleaning practices university-wide.

The University of Colorado wanted each campus to be responsible for its own purchasing, but for all orders to be centralized and managed via a single source. Staples integrated with the university’s existing e-procurement platform — M@rketplace — allowing users to easily search for and buy pre-approved facilities products. The Staples team worked closely with the University of Colorado Boulder’s distribution center to create ordering best practices, determining each campus’ cleaning needs and recommended inventory.


As a result of partnering with Staples, the University of Colorado has extended its sustainability initiatives, rolling out environmentally friendly cleaning practices across all of its locations. By relying on the Staples Sustainable Earth line of products, the university is actively promoting a healthy learning environment, while reducing the its environmental impact — exactly what they hoped to achieve.

Editor's Review

Clean facilities are healthy facilities. Green cleaning standards such as Green Seal’s GS-42, ISSA’s proposed Cleaning Industry Management Standard — Green Building (CIMS-GB) and LEED-EB are directing how buildings of the future will be cleaned and maintained. The University of Colorado is taking steps now to promote environmentally friendly cleaning practices. This attention to the health of its facilities and the students who learn within them will positively influence a cross-section of campus operations, from budgeting to recruitment and retention and much more. The bottom line, however, remains the health, well being and performance of the students who choose to attend the University of Colorado, and this sustainable cleaning initiative will have a direct impact on their success.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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