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Columbia Public Schools

Columbia Public Schools

In January 2009, the custodial services department adopted Missouri Green Cleaning Guidelines and Specifications for Schools to facilitate a healthier environment for students, visitors and employees. Since then, the district has:

-Replaced non-green paper towel, tissue, and soap with new dispensers and green products; 32 of 34 district buildings are complete.

-Replaced existing non-green cleaning chemicals and floor products with green products; 31 of 34 district buildings are complete.

-Replaced cotton dust mops and mop oil with microfiber dust mops.

-Replaced disposable cleaning and cloth rags with microfiber towels.

-A new elementary school has ground-source heat pumps, maintenance-free flooring, energy-efficient lighting and windows. The furniture is made of post-consumable recycled materials.

-Replaced 50 percent of the district’s single bucket/string mop systems with double bucket/microfiber flat mop systems.

-Replaced upright vacuums with CRI-approved/HEPA; moving toward replacing CRI backpacks w/HEPA. Custodial equipment purchases include green features with water-saving devices, dust control and AGM batteries.

-Launched new green floor finish into the stripping program, moving from a 3- to 5-year stripping schedule.

-Installed proper indoor and outdoor walkoff matting in two buildings.

-Recycled paper, cardboard, cans, plastic, toner cartridges and batteries.

We support Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Educations’ recommended guidelines found in the Missouri Green Law and made amazing progress toward environmentally sensitive products and programs. The district will continue to move forward, discouraging staff from bringing in products from home, reducing cluttered classrooms, ISSA-approved entrance matting, indoor air quality and other areas.

Cleaning procedures and strategies

Starting in fall 2009, carpets are pre-sprayed, and cold water is extracted instead of filling up extractors and dumping the remaining chemicals into floor drains. All restrooms are either cleaned or pre-sprayed with a sanitizer, including the floor. Fixtures are wiped clean and floor-mopped with cold water.

Floor finish is applied using flat finish mops with an applicator or pouring directly on the floor, spread in thin, even coats using flat finish mops. Both systems eliminate wasted water/stripper to clean traditional wet mop buckets/wringers. We have documented a reduction in custodial time, eliminated the dumping of leftover finish down floor drains and disposal of string mops. A 10 percent reduction in our consumption of floor finish is evident. Application of floor finish using mop buckets, wringers and string mops is prohibited.

The district uses two main products to reduce health impacts of the most touched surfaces: student desks/tables, door knobs/push plates, hand rails, drinking fountains. Monday, all surfaces are cleaned with a cleaner that puts a protective coating on the surface, reducing the buildup of dirt for easier future cleaning, and protects the surface against growth of bacteria. The coating reduces the amount of chemical needed during the week. Wednesday and Friday, all surfaces are sanitized. Through the week, these same surfaces are wiped as often as possible.

District staff stresses the importance of proper hand washing via the nursing coordinator. With the installation of green paper towels, tissue and soap, Jones met with teaching staff to explain the new product, stressing the importance of proper hand washing using only necessary soap and paper, to work with students on hygiene and the importance of being environmentally responsible.

This summer, the custodial department introduced chemical-free stripping pads to several buildings. It uses wood floor prep pads to top scrub floors with plain water before finish re-coating. If floors are stripped and not all finish residue was removed, wood prep pads with just water will remove remaining stripper residue, saving time and chemicals.

The district began purchasing slip over floor savers, which slip over existing metal or vinyl chair glides with felt bottoms. These protect the floor from scratches and wear, reducing the amount of burnishing during the year. This program is in early stages and is expected to reduce burnishing, resulting in deep cleaning instead of top scrubbing and re-coating of classrooms.

The department has had the same budget for the past two years, while adding an elementary, addition and trailers, and does not expect an increase to the budget for one to two years. Making a commitment to green, it needed to be innovative, analyzing existing programs, comparing new programs, and using the same budget. Attending green seminars, networking, working with New System on misconceptions, benefits and costs of green product/programs, the department brought several new programs to the district without a cost increase. The average cost of disposable and cloth rags spent was $9,800/year. It purchased microfiber cleaning rags for all district buildings, and 30 percent warehouse inventory for $6,870, creating savings to the budget for the existing year, and $9,800 savings the following year to apply to other programs.

The average cost of string mops, handles, wringers and buckets was $20,000/year. It purchased new double-bucket microfiber wet-mop systems, outfitting all elementary schools for $10,806 and microfiber top down kits for all buildings for quicker and more efficient cleaning of surfaces for $6,327. The original purchase was completed in the 2009/10 budget, and for 2010/11 will spend $15,285 in double bucket systems to complete the remaining buildings, creating additional savings and a pure $20,000 savings in 2011/12. Because of the design of the double-bucket systems, they expect additional savings in the consumption of floor cleaner.

The previous non-green paper towels, tissue and soap were antiquated, and costs had increased. Placing a public bid for new dispensers and green products, it received new dispensers and green products, creating a savings in cost of tissue paper at $17,000/year, soap at $8,000/year, and paper towels are breaking even, allowing a $25,000 savings. The previous non-green cleaning and floor care products were placed for public bid for new green products. The new products are less expensive; eliminated chemicals from 33 to 9 products; simplified training; and introduced new green cleaning programs to eliminate excess waste of chemicals. It is too early to project total savings in new chemical costs and programs, but it expects a more than 10 percent savings.

The ability to move quickly to bring the buildings online with new green products was not innovative on the part of the custodial department, but through attending seminars, listening to other districts, and New System’s help about timing and commitment to make changes. When we committed, warehouse and building inventory of existing paper towels, tissue, soap and chemicals was reduced to minimum supply. Excess building supply was credited back into warehouse inventory, reducing building expenditures and vendor orders were reduced or eliminated.


With dramatic changes made since April 2009, the district has not yet established consistent, documented procedures of our green initiatives. ATP meter testing is performed to monitor cleanliness of facilities. In September 2009, a green cleaning audit was performed at Midway Elementary. Full building inspections were completed during the school year to monitor cleanliness. In fall 2009, the department was given the opportunity to publicly document progress to the board of education, and it was applauded for its efforts.

Program Information Number of students: 17,550 Square footage maintained: 2,655,507 Number of full-time custodians: 145 Annual cleaning budget: $485,000 (includes paper towels, tissue and soap products for all buildings) Green cleaning team members: Michael Jones, Asst. Director of Custodial Svcs.; New System, Janitorial Prod. Distributor; Dave Thompson, Sales Rep.

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