Total number of students: 29,008
Total square footage maintained: 3,682,107
Total number of custodians: 110
Total annual cleaning budget: $8,209,893
Green cleaning team members: Scott Emry, Risk Health & Safety Manager; Forrest Miller, Director of Support Services; Darin Price, General Manager; Mladen Blagojevic, Day Supervisor; Daniel Nwoke, Evening Supervisor; Sodexo (Management of custodial staff); WAXIE Sanitary Supply; Ecolab; Tennant
The Green Cleaning initiative at Lake Washington School District began in the fall of 2012 when the Custodial Services department started evaluating how to gain a sustainability mindset and approach that integrated all aspects of its cleaning program. The department started by collaborating with its partners to reduce its chemical inventory, implement environmentally preferable chemicals, install chemical dispensing systems and incorporate microfiber cloths and mops.
From the outset the process as designed was team-driven rather than top-down. Head custodians from all 43 sites were instrumental in evaluating the effectiveness of the new products and procedures. This culminated with the department reducing its number of cleaning chemicals by nearly half, now using only four core chemicals to perform routine cleaning. All four chemicals are dispensed through a centralized dilution station using ultra-concentrated product that reduces waste and water use while controlling the amount of chemical dispensed. Along with consolidating chemicals, the district began cleaning with color-coded microfiber cloths and microfiber mop heads.
Since the core green cleaning program was developed, all custodial staff are educated and trained on processes and procedures by a combination of the custodial management team and service partners. A “Level of Service” document, specifically focusing on green cleaning was created and is now included in the “Support Services Guide” that is distributed annually to administrators, principals and other key district personnel.
The program has full support of district leadership, and the department was approved for more than $125,000 to upgrade equipment with gear that incorporates environmentally friendly technology. Lake Washington School District continues to vet new processes, technology, and equipment that advances its commitment toward environmentally friendly practices.
Cleaning Procedures and Strategies
- Vacuums are equipped with proper filters / bags and changed per manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Matting is used to reduce soil from entering building areas (6-10 feet of scrape).
- Microfiber replaced all standard cotton mops and cloths.
- All core chemicals are dispensed using Ecolab dispensers in ultra-concentrated 1.3-liter containers.
- An EPA registered disinfectant is dispensed using pump sprayers to minimize the amount used and to control spray to needed areas only. Disinfecting is only done in areas where pathogens are likely to exist.
- Floor scrubbing is limited on all tiled flooring and therefore the floor finish used is durable enough to withstand scrubbing and refinishing to this level.
- As floor stripper is not used, floors are scrubbed/stripped using an orbital floor machine, surface prep pad and water.
- Truck mount carpet extraction is performed with surplused school buses that allow carpet techs to use 2 wands simultaneously – limiting emissions, chemical and water usage.
- All paper products meet the EPA minimum guideline of 40% post-consumer recycled content.
- Non-bleached paper towels are preferred and are used when available.
- Toilet tissue dispensers used are designed to maximize usage, i.e. coreless rolls.
- Trash liners are only replaced when torn or soiled.
- All schools have un-lined recycle bins.
- All school lunchrooms offer compost containers for student use.
- Custodial staff partner with school green teams in recycling efforts and initiatives.
- In addition to restroom areas, the district has set a standard of including sinks, soap and towel dispensers in learning areas to promote frequent hand washing by students, staff and other occupants.
Custodial staff not only receive routine hands-on training consisting of safety and technical processes, materials and/or equipment to be used but also have received training specific to its departmental green cleaning program. The training provides an overview of the program and practices but also has an emphasis on dispelling common myths associated with green cleaning, such as “green cleaning only involves products or chemicals” or “green cleaning is simply about just switching to green chemicals.” Separating fact from fiction with custodial staff provides a deeper understanding of green cleaning and helps overcome objections to the green cleaning program’s goals, fostering staff buy-in.
In addition to in-house training, the district hosts equipment and distributor partners to showcase equipment demonstrations that are open to custodial staff. The staff get hands-on experience with the equipment but are also informed of how the equipment and/or technology support green cleaning.