Green Schools
Green Cleaning: Summertime Debriefing

Green Cleaning: Summertime Debriefing

Every year, a majority of schools and universities undertake deep cleaning, repair, maintenance and training while most students are on summer break. I hope that all of these critical activities were completed this year on time and on budget.

The key is that education institutions repeat these activities every summer; a specific exercise should be established to ensure that the summer-time efforts continually improve. This is the time of the year to do a debriefing to determine how effectively the time was spent and identify opportunities for improvements that can be applied next year.

Conducting an annual summertime debriefing can make next year’s efforts more successful:

Products: Did the products meet the needs and expectations? Did the products perform adequately? Were adequate quantities purchased? If new technologies were used, how did they perform? Did products meet LEED, STARS, state mandates or sustainability objectives for using green cleaning products? Should new technologies, green or traditional products be considered for purchase throughout the school year or for next year’s program? What feedback do staff members have about the performance of the products, as well as any other feedback based on their experience using the products? Should the purchasing department incorporate any new requirements for next year?

Suppliers: Did the suppliers meet needs and expectations? Were supplies delivered on time and complete, or were there numerous delays and backorders? If there were emergency requests for products, did the supplier respond in a timely manner? Was the supplier knowledgeable about the products? Did it offer informed recommendations about alternatives or other ways to be helpful? Is there any experience, either positive or negative, that should be shared with the purchasing department that should be considered next year?

Processes: Were the cleaning processes effective? What worked well and what could be improved? Were the people and teams well-organized? Did the processes reduce energy and water use? Did they reduce waste? What feedback from supervisors and staff could improve the processes, as well as those for next year’s intensive summer program?

Training: Was the training adequate? If not, where did it fall short? Should the amount of time be longer or shorter next year? Was enough time spent on improving skills vs. compliance? Was the amount of classroom and hands-on training appropriate? Was it appropriate for the skill level of the people being trained? Do supervisors and staff have feedback about the trainers? How can the program be improved next year? Should the trainers be invited back or new ones identified?

Personnel: How did the supervisors and staff perform? Did they do just the minimum that was expected or did any of them excel? Did any stand out as candidates for increased responsibility? What feedback do supervisors and staff have on their colleagues (good and bad)? Were any people given responsibilities that did not align with their skill set? What was learned about the team and how could things be done better next year? Should any information be discussed with the human resources department? 

Facilities: Were any areas identified that need to be addressed differently next year? Were there any areas under renovation, construction and repurposing, or changes such as increasing or decreasing enrollment or funding that may affect next year’s activities? If so, how will this affect product purchasing, suppliers, cleaning and maintenance processes, training, personnel and other issues affecting next year’s summertime activities? 

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