The Technology of Green Cleaning: Why Is It Important?

May 06, 2013

To make improvements for the environment and for school health, a few cleaning technology changes can make a big difference.

A few weeks ago, on this blog, we told you the story of a custodial staff member at Sidney Sawyer Elementary School on the Southwest Side of Chicago. As the school’s chief engineer, Thomas O’Connell, explained, the staff member suffered from asthma, and when she mixed cleaning chemicals in the bathroom with hot water, the resulting fumes made her violently ill, too sick to work.

No one should have to work in a potentially harmful environment, nor should any child have to go to school where cleanliness comes at the price of student or staff health. O’Connell’s use of new technologies are exciting — and are just one example of the many ways schools are reducing harmful chemicals and cleaning with health as the priority. Other examples of changes include water-based equipment; microfiber mops; rags that are more efficient than their predecessors and more. New processes for cleaning are more effective, healthy and eco-friendly than the rags-and-bleach ways of the past.

For those interested in learning more about best practices and new technology for green cleaning and simple changes that go a long way, we offer a free webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, May 7th at 2 p.m. Central time.

Participants will learn from the experts on these new strategies, including speakers from two K-12 school districts and one university. These include :

  • Olivia Claus and Valerie Buyers, Custodial Services, Howard County Public Schools (Md.), winners of the 2012 Green Cleaning Grand Award K-12 Division

  • Lower Merion School District (Pa.), 2012 Green Cleaning Award Honorable Mention  

  • Allen Rudd, Director of Custodial Services, Temple University, winners of the 2012 Green Cleaning Grand Award Colleges and Universities Division

Temple University, in particular, has experienced a complete transition of its cleaning services, embracing new technologies and practices, great and small. Green cleaning at Temple has proven healthier, more effective and even more cost-effective. By investing in new technology and phasing out many chemicals, they’ve reduced chemical supply costs by more than half and reduced cleaning product purchases by nearly 45 percent. But more importantly, they’ve improved the health of students and staff, drastically reducing student allergic reactions and leading to a decline in symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems.

As we have seen, as exciting as these new technologies are, it’s truly the people involved who drive any cleaning program. Training is key. Howard County Schools, for example, made training a focal point of the transition. All the staff received extensive training which, in part, helped them become the first school district to receive GreenSeal’s GS-42 Certification.

Experts from all schools will offer best practices for helping personnel adjust to the changes.

Our featured schools and school districts have embraced new technology and gone well above and beyond in their transition to green cleaning. But to make changes for the environment and for school health, programs don't need to undergo a total overhaul or adapt only top-of-the-line technology. A few changes can make a big difference.

Experts participating in this webinar are all honorees of the National Green Cleaning Awards for Schools & Universities, which HSC launched in 2007 along with our friends at the Green Cleaning Network and American School & University Magazine. And since that time, we have seen some incredible changes, including efforts to reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals, adaptation of cutting-edge technologies and a focus on training and adapting small but meaningful changes that make big health and environmental impacts.

Join us!

“Blue Green Cleaning: Beyond Chemistry” will take place Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 from 2 – 3pm Central Time. If you would like to join us, you can register here, and check out our Events page for more exciting webinars in this series throughout the summer.