A Great Green Cleaning Program Starts with Great People

September 17, 2018 | Written By:

When the green cleaning program at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis started five years ago, it was focused on using environmentally friendly chemicals. “Our whole green cleaning program sprang from there,” says Jim Walsh, the building operations manager. The program has grown to include using microfiber, certified equipment, supplies from agricultural byproducts and Green Seal certified hand soaps.

The program encompasses 6 million square feet overseen by 15 supervisors. As with any new program, getting buy-in from supervisors and staff was key into making it a long-term success. “Supervisors bought into the system right away,” Walsh says. “Staff bought into what management was selling.”

The program’s success even brought around some late adopters who found it harder to adjust to a new routine. “The turning point was seeing that they didn’t need as much chemical to get their cleaning done,” Walsh says. The also saw the savings that came from using microfiber and not throwing cleaning rags out on a daily basis. The savings topped $30,000 a year, Walsh estimates.

The investment process didn’t end with cleaning staff. The department changed the way it picks up trash and recycling from around campus. It started with a new bin: a recycling bin with a small black trash bin attached. Most often, you’ll see a large trash bin with a small recycling bin. Instead of picking up trash three times a week, the custodial team picks up recycling three times a week and staff empty their own trash bins into a centralized trash collection area. This change helps staff think more carefully about the trash they’re producing.

Walsh credits the success of the school’s green cleaning initiatives with a great custodial team. “It’s not just a green cleaning program,” he says. “I would put the cleanliness of our university with any other university in the midwest.”

About the Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities
The Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities is the only award dedicated solely to recognizing schools and their facility leaders for their tireless work promoting clean, healthy and sustainable school buildings. Presented by Healthy Schools Campaign, American School & University magazine and the Green Cleaning Network, it highlights schools with innovative, health-focused and environmentally minded cleaning programs. Judging criteria are based on our 5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools.

Applications Available this Fall!
Applications for the next round of awards will be available in the fall. Sign up for the Green Clean Schools newsletter to be notified when the application is posted. We look forward to learning about your green cleaning program!

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