Building a Movement at the 2017 Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute

August 07, 2017

Our Green Clean Schools program is enjoying a busy summer season. We held our third Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute in beautiful Park City, Utah, July 13-14 and are now gearing up for our Green Clean Schools Track event at ISSA/INTERCLEAN to be held Sept. 11-12.

More than 60 Leadership Institute participants spent two packed days touring the award-winning cleaning program at Salt Lake City School District (SLCSD), learning from panel discussions on leadership as a key element in the green cleaning movement, participating in interactive group exercises, networking and enjoying the beautiful Wasatch mountains together.

Day 1: Touring Salt Lake City School District’s Green Cleaning Program

The school tours on the first day of the Leadership Institute took a deep dive into the SLCSD green cleaning program, highlighting training and staff engagement practices as well as the latest technologies being utilized in the field today. Mervin Brewer, assistant custodial supervisor at SLCSD and member of the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council, helped organize the tour, supported by 10 members of his custodial staff who served as tour guides and gave mini-presentations at tour stops. Those tour stops included short presentations that focused on elements of the district’s cleaning program, including green approaches to floor care, integrated pest management practices for which the district is known, recycling initiatives and restroom care.

After the tour, participants listened to presentations from leaders in the field of sustainability and green cleaning in Utah schools. Greg Libecci, SLCSD energy and resource manager, and Shawna Cragun, director of custodial services at neighboring Davis School District, presented on the sustainability initiatives they employ at their schools, including energy reduction practices and plans for groundbreaking composting programs.

Day 2: Working Together to Overcome Challenges

On the second day of the Leadership Institute, participants got to work. First, we heard an impassioned call to action from Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, and co-author of Healthy Schools Campaign’s 5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools. Emphasizing the need for consistent messaging throughout the industry, his presentation outlined the precise language, messaging and data that all green cleaning champions should be highlighting in order to evoke change in the green cleaning movement.

Next, participants heard from members of the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council presenting on the leadership practices they use in their green cleaning programs. Jodi Krause, assistant director of housekeeping at University of Wisconsin-Madison, highlighted the servant leadership philosophy that she uses to enrich her staff community through service. Next, Kim Thomas, executive director of plant services and custodial operations at Clarke County School District in Georgia, and Keith Webb, executive director of plant services at Newport News Public Schools in Virginia, shared proven methods to engage school communities around green cleaning and discussed ways to work together with local organizations and peers to advance green cleaning.

In between presentations from the Leadership Council, attendees participated in a World Cafe Tabletop Workshop to work through industry challenges. Attendees had the opportunity to submit their own topics for discussion prior to the workshop. At the conclusion, each group reported out their challenges and the solutions/opportunities to overcoming each.

Before adjourning, Tracy Enger, U.S. EPA Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools project manager, led an inspiring, interactive take-home session. Enger urged participants to write down near- and long-term objectives that they would bring home with them to put what they learned at the Institute into action.

Most of the presentation slides from the Leadership Institute have been posted on the Green Clean Schools website.

What’s Next?

The next Green Clean Schools event is fast approaching. We’re hosting the Green Clean Schools Track at ISSA/INTERCLEAN. This unique event will take an in-depth look at the how-to’s and specifics of building a green cleaning program. This event will feature one full day of panel discussions and interactive programming, and one day on the trade show floor, with a guided tour planned especially for facility personnel from schools and universities.