Yale is greening its cleaning with Orbio technology

November 2, 2016

Conventional university cleaning products contain numerous chemicals that can negatively affect the health and safety of custodial staff and have harmful impacts on the environment. As a result, Yale is investing in a different kind of cleaning solution that provides the same amount of benefits without the harmful chemicals.

Using a combination of just water, salt, and electricity, Orbio technology is a safe, healthy and green alternative.

 “The machine uses electrolysis to turn water, small amounts of salt and electricity into a powerful cleaning agent that disinfects and sanitizes.” Yale Facilities Operations Director Roger Goode explains, “The final product is then transferred into either handheld spray containers or bigger machines depending on whether it will be used to clean off bathroom and kitchenette counters or floors and carpets.”

Two years ago, Yale Facilities Services purchased its first Orbio machine for the Central Campus Libraries. Additional machines have since been added to the Chemistry areas on Science Hill, the School of Management, Yale Law School, and the Facilities Service Site at 344 Winchester.

The replacement of conventional cleaning products with Orbio technology has had multiple benefits. The product reduces the amount and types of chemicals that staff are exposed to. Goode elaborates, “With conventional cleaners, if you spill the product on your skin, you may have to treat it right away. If you spill the Orbio solution on your skin, it’s like getting splashed by the ocean, just salt and water.”

Orbio technology streamlines the cleaning process by minimizing the amount of products used and steps taken. It reduces the concern that a person might accidently mix chemicals inappropriately.

The environment also benefits from Yale’s switching to alternative cleaning products. Orbio technology does not have VOCs, dyes, or buffers that can emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and water. Since 2013, Yale Facilities have more than doubled their purchases of green-certified chemicals.

There is a limitation to Orbio technology. Due to its size, the machine must be placed in a location where larger groups have access to it. Otherwise, it is not economically feasible. For a university campus, however, there are multiple placement opportunities.

This past October, Yale Facilities had the opportunity to publicize the success of Orbio technology to various groups and departments at Yale during the Founders Day Sustainability Fair. They even brought an Orbio machine to Cross Campus, demonstrating how the technology works to the wider Yale community.

Since, Yale Facilities has purchased an Orbio machine for Kline Biology Tower. Yale is also deciding on a proper location for another machine at West Campus. The additional Orbio machines are expected to be up and running by the end of calendar year 2016.