Greening the Cleaning at Franklin and Murray Colleges

A photo of Kirsta MacLellan, Facilities Superintendent for Franklin and Murray Colleges at Yale University
March 13, 2023

In the basement of Pauli Murray college is a closet-sized machine that tells a story about how Yale is advancing sustainability on campus—and about a person working to make change happen.

The machine is a green-cleaning device called the Annihilare, which vaguely resembles a gas-station slushy machine. It can generate six different sustainable cleaning solutions using only water, salt, and electricity. Since it was installed in November, the machine has virtually eliminated the need for 20 different chemical cleaning solutions that had been used by custodial staff at Murray and Franklin Colleges, home to 900 students and 100 residential staff.

Spearheading this effort is Kirsta MacLellan, the Facilities Superintendent for the two colleges. MacLellan spent months researching and testing green-cleaning machines and securing buy-in for the upgrade, though she is quick to heap credit onto Murray and Franklin’s 18-member custodial staff.

“Our employees led the charge by wanting a simplified system to draw from,” says MacLellan. “This is a one-stop-shop cleaning system that is healthy and sustainable for them, for our students, and for the community.”

Green cleaning is only one way MacLellan has prioritized sustainability since she was appointed as Facilities Superintendent at Yale’s newest residential colleges. She recently eliminated the use of blue recycling can liners—which frequently contaminate batches of recycling, meaning the material gets trashed—in favor of a safer, consolidated-materials management system that uses fewer supplies and less energy. She has worked as part of the Facilities Unit Safety Committee to successfully develop safer, more sustainable work practices for custodial employees. And she serves on Yale’s newly created Waste Management Committee, convened by the Office of Sustainability to improve recycling and reduce waste at the University.

MacLellan traces her passion for the environment to childhood summers spent in the wilds of New Hampshire, her lifelong advocacy for animal rights, and an early job at Yale—around 2002—in which she worked alongside Julie Newman, first director of Office of Sustainability.

“I watched Julie single-handedly develop the one-person sustainability office into what it is today,” recalls MacLellan, who has worked in Yale residential colleges for more than 11 years. “I will forever be grateful to her mentorship.

“I’ve always loved the residential culture and being part of the undergraduate life at Yale,” she adds. “I’m most proud to be a part of the facilities team at Franklin and Murray. It’s a strong, positive team that not only provides the two colleges with excellent and consistent services, they also support and promote Yale’s sustainability agenda.”

Each month, Yale Sustainability features a ‘Sustainability Champion of the Month’—a student, staff, or faculty member who is leading the charge toward a more sustainable campus. If you know a sustainability champion at Yale, email and tell us about them.