GCA 2011 Higher Education Honorable Mention: Western Washington University (with Related Video)

Western Washington University (Bellingham, Washington)

Program Information
Number of students: 14,000
Square footage maintained: 1.6 million
Number of full-time custodians: 50.5
Annual cleaning budget: $1.8 million
Green cleaning team members: John Furman, Fac. Mgmt. Dir.; Don Bakkensen, Mgr. Acad. Cust. Svcs.; John Timmerman, Greg Keeler, Elzbieta Chala, Juanito Delarosa, Ken Nance, Frieda Briwn, Heather Dodd, Roberto Lim, James Perigo, Gordon Kim, Anthea Jone, Hoa Do, Cust. Team Ldrs.; Bay City Supply, Bio Kleen, Waxie, Coastwide Labs, Jan. Prod. Dist.; William Managan, Asst. Dir. Facilities Mgmt.; Seth Vidaña, Campus Sust. Mgr.

Our move toward green cleaning began in 1999 with our investment in microfibers. In our opinion, the cornerstone to any green program is microfiber technology. We followed this investment with the purchase of ergonomic, double reservoir mop buckets and high-filtration backpack vacuums; both the double-reservoir buckets and backpack vacuums continue to be a major part of our program.

Since 1999 we have worked hard to eliminate all non-green cleaning products from our inventory, discontinue the use of bleach for surface cleaning and laundry, and reduce or eliminate products that leave residues or emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). At this time, we primarily use ionized water as our base cleaning agent. We use microfibers and water for all general cleaning and carpet care, and have recently introduced dry-steam vapor cleaning for all restroom floors. If we find a cleaning challenge that ionized water cannot handle, we will use vinegar as a cleaning boost.

In 2003, we instituted team cleaning into our standard operating procedure (SOP), a transition that has enabled us to use resources more efficiently and effectively in every building on campus. As we continue to build a team-based, community approach, our staff members regularly complete training courses in CMI Basic and Advanced leadership and management, and receive skills training and development seminars taught by in-house cleaning educators. We have also invited equipment representatives to campus for staff training, instruction, and demonstrations for new products and equipment such as a touchless cleaning system. At present we use four touchless systems for daily operation in high-use restrooms.

The Green Cleaning (GC) program at WWU is directed by a sustainable mandate from the Administration. GC at WWU is comprised of several integrated concepts and policies. These include, 1) a “zero impact” policy regarding the indoor environmental quality for both custodian and client; 2) a “Leave No Residues Behind” policy; 3) use only non-chemical cleaning technology when feasible; 4) reduce and eliminate all petrochemical, heavy metals (finishes), sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or non-organic solvent cleaning products; 5) use microfiber technology for wet and dry wiping, wet/damp mopping and dust mopping; 6) use ergonomic, high-filtration Carpet and Rug Institute backpack and upright vacuums; 7) use ionized water and dry- vapor steam cleaning technology for all aspects of our cleaning operation including restroom sanitization, all hard-surface cleaning, upholstery and carpet cleaning; 8) use low-moisture encapsulation and other low-moisture carpet cleaning technology and hot-water extraction such as mold-eliminating dehumidification and evaporative drying; 9) use-low moisture auto scrubbers with collapsing foam, low-water consumption units and passive-particulate recovery burnishers that reduce airborne dust.

By implementing these concepts and integrating GC technology into our program we have successfully eliminated 75 hazardous/residue-producing cleaning agents from our inventory. In order to maintain this and other successful aspects of our GC strategies, and continue to develop improvements to our program, we organize and present training/retraining programs that all custodial staff members complete on an annual basis. The training program incorporates topics such as microfiber use, color-coding, back safety, blood-borne pathogens, team cleaning strategies and procedures, and proper substance labeling. We also train all staff in Cleaning Management Inst. Basic and Advanced leadership and management. Our ongoing goal is to stay on the cutting edge of GC. Our goal involves waste reduction, water conservation, and a creating a hygienic campus environment. To accomplish this goal we are actively pursuing awareness, education and active involvement in environmental stewardship.

As a GC operation, we always strive to minimize negative effects to the indoor air quality by using only low- or non-VOC producing products and by using simple water solutions for all general cleaning. We have embarked on a program that uses the touchless system to remove soil and waste once a week in our restrooms, and we have eliminated all biocides or sanitizing products and replaced them with ionized water.

We are also in the process of developing a campuswide recycling program that will use mini cans to collect waste. We are working with departmental leads in each building to monitor waste streams to reduce campus-wide waste by 60 percent. We have reduced the need for annual hard-floor stripping through a floor maintenance plan based on a five-year cycle. Our process uses low-moisture auto scrubbers, microfiber, backpack vacuum particulate removal and ultra- high-speed burnishing. We also use non-metal-link floor finish and GS40 certified stripper when we apply a finish coat.

Carpet cleaning is performed on a yearly basis for all public areas, including classrooms, lecture halls and departmental offices, and on a two-year cycle for faculty offices. Vacuuming is performed daily in public areas and once a week in faculty office spaces. Our department is rapidly transitioning to daytime cleaning schedules to reduce power usage and to form partnerships with our clients. Daytime cleaning also allows for greater flexibility when changes are required in our standard cleaning operations. Day cleaning also personalizes our operation by increasing public interface.

We have implemented the Breeze Custodial Data Tracking System to equalize workloads, provide a database for monthly team-cleaning assessment and for staff evaluations. Our performance evaluations are completed quarterly and are conducted in accordance with guidelines developed by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators. Section leaders conduct cleaning level inspections on a weekly basis. As a result of our team cleaning strategy, we focus more on educating our staff on the benefits of working together toward sustainable goals than on establishing measurable performance expectations. From a management position, section leaders determine the best process for accomplishing cleaning tasks and procedures in each building. We have discovered through this process of personal and professional accountability that emphasizing teamwork toward a common goal helps to assure both quality and cooperation on an individual level.

We communicate through email, voicemail and by cell phone to inform our clients and make sure they are aware of our ongoing concern for sustainability, green programs developments, and our plans for innovations to these programs in the future. As a team pursuing sustainable cleaning practices, we have formal training programs that include instruction and demonstrations from in-house personnel, guest lectures from company representatives and staff-designed presentations. All custodial staff members complete formal training sessions twice annually. We try to communicate with everyone on a regular basis and ongoing training plays a big part in keeping everyone up to speed with what's going on in the department.

Related Video

About Sustainability at Western Washington:

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