Think green cleaning has to put you in the red? Not so, say proponents who argue that cleaning can be as friendly to a school budget as it is to the environment.
Participants in a recent Healthy Schools Campaign webinar attempted to quiet any skepticism about green cleaning, tackling common misconceptions such as beliefs that the green products and equipment are costly and that the cleaning methods are more labor-intensive and inefficient.
Mark Bishop, vice president of policy with HSC, says a green cleaning program can enable schools to be good stewards of both the environment and public money.
“Green cleaning is more than just health and it’s more than just environment. It’s also about being responsible about the financial resources of our cleaning programs,” Bishop says.
“Green cleaning is about increasing your efficiency. It’s about smart investment in equipment. It’s about using fewer yet smarter and more effective chemicals, and it’s about taking your labor and using it more effectively.”
That has certainly been Patrick Pizzo’s experience. The administrator of operations at the East Meadow School District in Long Island says green cleaning has saved his district $367,097 annually.
“There is more to cleaning than using the strongest chemical possible. Process change is key,” Pizzo says.
“We look at our program as a departure from the initial behavior of traditional facilities departments. Traditionally, the focus was only on efficacy – products needed to work. And this is still essential, but with budget constraints, efficiency became a substantial factor as well.”
Here’s a rundown of some of the product and labor savings East Meadow realized after implementing its green cleaning program:
- Switching to ionized water for window cleaning: about 77 percent.
- Eliminating buffing chemicals after turning to ionized water and diamond pads to clean the terrazzo floors: 100 percent.
- Switching to green wax, which has a base coat that only needs to be removed after three years: 49 percent. This also led to a 88 percent reduction in baseboard cleaner.
- Using organic treatments for the athletic fields: 24 percent.
- Installing exterior LED lighting: 78 percent.
The HSC webinar, called “Making the Financial Case for Green Cleaning,” is part of a summer series on green cleaning. Webinars on “New Technology in Green Cleaning” and “Green Cleaning and Infection Control” will be held Aug. 19 and Sept. 16, respectively.