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Custodial Services


Federal custodial services include the cleaning and upkeep of a wide variety of space types, including office spaces, cafeterias, and fitness facilities.  Custodial service contracts not only involve the use of cleaning products, but they often require the replenishment of building products (e.g., trash bags, bathroom tissue/toilet paper, paper towels).  Waste management is another significant component of custodial services contracts, whether a contractor develops its own waste management plan or helps execute an existing strategy.  Due to the nature of the work and types of products used, custodial services have the potential to have significant negative impacts on the environment and public health.  Federal buyers can employ sustainable custodial practices by considering and accounting for environmental factors in federal solicitations and contracts. Below are some tips to help get you started.  This type of service typically falls under NAICS code 561720 and Product Service Code (PSC) S299.

Downloadable Resources
Selected Past Solicitations If you have past Custodial Services green solicitations that would be informative to the green procurement community, please submit them to sftool@gsa.gov.
Required Green Products

In accordance with FAR Subpart 23.1opens in new window, federal contracts for janitorial services must require contractors to use or supply products covered by the following environmental programs:

Includes air fresheners, cleaners, floor protectors, and more.
Includes toilet paper, plastic trash bags, recycling containers, and more.
Includes all-purpose and specialty cleaners, hand soaps, odor removers, and more
Includes disinfectants.
Includes food service ware, cleaning products, trash bags, and more.

Note that the above products mandated by statute are also required for GSA leases. Refer to GSA's Green Lease Policies and Proceduresopens in new window (under "Required Green Lease/RLP Provisions") for more information on both required and recommended provisions.

Individual agencies or solicitations may specify additional green product requirements.

FAR clause 52.223-2opens in new window, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, requires service and construction contractors to report their purchases of biobased products to the new reporting portal within the System for Award Management (SAM)opens in new window. You should also consider requiring contractors to submit regular reports identifying the quantity and type of all green products used or delivered during contract performance. For performance-based contracts, checking for contractor use of sustainable products should be part of the Quality Assurance Plan.

Optional Green Practices

There are many other commercial practices that will result in a more sustainable and environmentally preferable service.  Consider these when defining performance requirements and developing evaluation criteria.   

  • Create schedules by cleaning need, especially for highly polluting cleaning activities. For areas that do not require regular cleaning, build in the flexibility to clean as needed. Emphasize cleaning in high-traffic areas, such as building entrances and restrooms.
  • Identify areas that have a higher risk for germs, such as staph, and therefore require disinfection. 
  • Require an immediate spot cleaning policy for accidents and stains to prevent transfer. A spot cleaning plan should be in place for both the janitorial contractor and building occupants. Many times a janitorial contractor can have a spot cleaning plan in place, but building occupants do not report spills allowing the spill to set and cause a stain.
  • Consider cleaning during the day. Nighttime cleaning results in lighting inadvertently being left on throughout and additional HVAC needs. 
  • Require training for janitorial teams in sustainable methods (e.g., chemical management, proper dilution, and waste minimization, etc).
  • Require contractors to either propose a waste management/recycling plan or provide details on how they will execute your existing waste management/recycling program. 
  • Specify what type of recycling service you require. Include a list of what is and what is not acceptable for recycling.
  • Ask janitorial staff to report when recyclables are improperly sorted or found in the garbage so building management can communicate problems and solutions with tenant contacts.
  • Offer periodic training sessions to educate new and existing janitorial staff about your waste management program and receive feedback.
  • Ensure the janitorial contractor works with the pest management team to decrease pest problems.
  • You may want to consider inserting some of the following requirements into your janitorial contracts as well as your pest management contracts:
    • Empty all employee trash cans at the end of everyday as many pests are nocturnal.
    • Keep trash receptacles away from doors and windows so as to help keep pests from entering buildings.
    • Do not allow standing water to exist on site. Ask contractors to store mops, sponges, etc. in a manner which will allow them to dry quickly.
    • Require contractors to report clogged drains, leaking pipes, and dripping faucets immediately. 

• Require janitorial contractors to use “green” cleaning chemicals certified by a reputable source. EPA offers guidance for federal purchasers

• Use cleaning products that do not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  The California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Clean Air Solvent (CAS) Certification Program can help you identify such cleaners.

• Consider using cleaning products identified as non-toxic; non-petroleum based; water-based; free of ammonia; phosphates, dye, or perfume; readily biodegradable; and using recyclable containers when no federal program applies.

• Use high efficiency filtration vacuum cleaners.

• Use of two chamber cleaning buckets as opposed to traditional mop pails.

• Rather than bulk chemicals, Use portion appropriate portion control devices to mix cleaning solutions.  This can reduce exposure to chemicals, save packaging, and reduce chemical composition.

• Use indoor cleaning equipment ergonomically designed to minimize vibration, noise, and user fatigue.

• When possible, avoid products with extreme pH levels or cause respiratory irritancy.  For example, avoid the use of caustic disinfectants on flooring when a mild detergent at a neutral pH will suffice.

• Do not use heavy-duty cleaners for light-duty jobs.

• Prohibit the use of aerosol cans that contain propellants.

Evaluation Factors

There are many opportunities to consider environmental criteria in your evaluation of offers.  A Pass/Fail approach may be appropriate for establishing basic green product requirements or when market research shows that other sustainable practices are common in the commercial marketplace.  For example, you might establish minimum sustainability training requirements for all janitorial team members – an offeror can either meet this requirement (pass) or it cannot (fail).  

In some cases, it may be appropriate to consider environmental aspects through a Best Value Tradeoff approach in lieu of, or in addition to, pass/fail criteria.  By incorporating environmental criteria into your evaluation factors, you can weigh a vendor’s ability to offer desirable sustainable practices above and beyond minimum contract requirements in relation to other factors, such as price. Several potential opportunities for incorporating environmental considerations into your evaluation factors are listed below:

  • Waste Management – Evaluate how contractors intend to manage and dispose of waste, including plans to recycle materials.
  • Technical Approach & Management Plan – Require contractors to address sustainable practices, develop environmental project goals and objectives, and develop a project plan that will maximize sustainability objectives.
  • Past Performance – Evaluate how well the contractor performed previous projects where they have successfully implemented green janitorial practices, including the use of green products.
  • Previous Experience – Require contractors to demonstrate their experience and capability to provide green janitorial services similar in size, scope, and complexity to the required work.
  • Staffing Plan – Give consideration to staffing plans that propose persons with green certifications or to contractors that require employees to take environmental training.

Your evaluation should also consider all costs over the life of the project, not just the initial cost. For instance, implementing preventative maintenance practices, limiting the use of disinfectants, and cleaning during work hours may reduce total costs over the life of the contract.

Where to Buy

Federal agencies may purchase custodial services under GSA's Building Maintenance and Operations BMOS. While these contracts include basic terms and conditions, the ordering agency is responsible for inserting the appropriate green requirements and language into the solicitation.  More information on ordering through GSA Multiple Award Schedules can be found here.

SourceAmerica (formerly NISH) also offers federal agencies custodial service solutions, inclusive of its “Clean and Green” green cleaning program.