In line with its sustainability goals, Yale has been investing in green cleaning technology in place of conventional cleaning products. Most recently, Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges became the first residential colleges on campus to use on-site generation, a green alternative to standard cleaning products.
On-site generation, provided by Orbio Technologies, does not use conventional cleaning chemicals that can cause negative health and environmental impacts. Instead, it uses a mixture of water, electricity, and salt. Through electrolysis, an Orbio unit converts these components into powerful cleaning and disinfecting solutions that are then transferred into spray containers and bigger machines depending on the cleaning surface.
An Orbio unit is located in Pauli Murray College that services both new residential colleges, adding to six units already on campus. The units service 21 buildings, including satellite stations—smaller units for locations unable to house a main unit, but able to be filled regularly by a nearby Orbio unit.
According to Kirsta MacLellan, facilities superintendent for Franklin and Murray Colleges, the technology is versatile, applicable to all the residential colleges’ public spaces to clean surfaces from floors to mirrors to carpets. It also hosts multiple benefits in comparison to conventional cleaning products.
“It’s better for the customer because you’re not using products that would be harmful to breathe in like a chemical-based solution,” says MacLellan. The cleaner also has little to no scent, so it is better for staff and students with allergies or sensitivities to fragrances than other cleaners.
The technology is certified by Green Seal, a third-party standards developer for products and services that promote sustainability and protect natural resources. The technology reduces environmental impact by minimizing packaging, shipping, and disposing of conventional cleaning products.
Custodial Team Leader Jacquie Gaetano collected data on Orbio technology on campus as part of an internship through the Yale Office of Sustainability and Yale Facilities Services. She finds the technology is safer for custodial staff by minimizing the number of products used and steps taken, reducing the concern that chemicals might be accidently mixed.
Yale’s incorporation of on-site generation in the new residential colleges is part of larger sustainability efforts laid out in the recently updated Yale Green Cleaning Standards. Developed by the Facilities Services, the Standards aim to reduce the exposure of faculty, staff, students, and visitors to chemical, biological, and particulate matter that may be harmful to human health, and the built and natural environments.
According to Gaetano, Yale is exploring the possibility of installing an additional 19 Orbio units across campus, and 17 satellite stations in the near future.
Yale is committed to building a more sustainable world. By doing what we do best—integrating science, the humanities, and our community—Yale creates, tests, and adopts innovative solutions to the environmental and social challenges we all face.