GCA 2011 K/12 Honorable Mention: Salt Lake City School District (with Related Video)

Salt Lake City School District (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Program Information
Number of students: 24,200
Square footage maintained: 4,421,201
Number of full-time custodians: 155 (105 full-time and 100 part-time)
Annual cleaning budget: $4,948,619
Green cleaning team members: Ricardo Zubiate, Custodial Supervisor; Mervin Brewer, Robin Anderson, Asst. Custodial Supervisors; Greg Lebecci, Energy and Resource Mgr.

Recent Innovations

Our custodial staff has been involved in energy-saving initiatives (turning off lights when not in use, monitoring HVAC running times etc.), as well as vigorous involvement in waste management and recycling in the schools. The results are as follows:

Based on Energy Star results comparing our most recent 12 months of energy use vs. the baseline (fiscal '08 - '09), overall improvement in energy use at all 35 schools is 12 percent. This qualified our district for Energy Star Leader recognition.

Energy Star results also put the district's portfolio of schools in the top 25 percent category of most efficient schools in the country with a portfolio average score of 80 out of a possible 100. This qualified the district for Energy Star Top Performer recognition.

Annual cost savings related to these improvements is estimated to be around $500,000.

CO2 reductions associated with these improvements are calculated to be 1,383.54 metric tons, which is equivalent to the annual CO2 released by 304 cars.

Single-stream recycling efforts are currently diverting 480 cu/yds each month from the landfill while reducing waste-removal costs by about $2,000 per month.

Paper and cardboard recycling efforts are diverting an additional 47 tons of valuable commodity each month from the landfill, avoiding a removal cost equal to roughly $1,850 while generating a monthly income stream of $700.

The adoption of IPM practices for dealing with pests in our schools have drastically reduced indoor pesticide (poisons) use in our schools while also reducing the number of pest sightings in our schools. Pesticides are known asthma triggers, and reducing them helps improve indoor air quality.

History of our Green Program

Over the past few years, the custodial department conducted pilot tests of green cleaning products at several schools to evaluate their effectiveness. As a result, we have not only changed the chemicals used in our schools, but also the cleaning and maintenance processes. We have formed an oversight committee, assessed needed changes, set goals, developed a timeframe and systematically implemented green cleaning processes and adopted greener chemicals, paper and other products and equipment. By phasing out products and methods that were inefficient and updating our processes, we have been able to accomplish our goals with no increase to the custodial budget.

We have made a strong commitment to "Cleaning for Health", and we encourage our staff to think of themselves as “environmental stewards” rather than maintenance, custodial or technical staff members because every activity they perform is in some way related to providing a safe and healthy indoor and outdoor environment for the children, students and staff of the district. Thinking about the environmental consequences and trying to be green is what we strive for in all facets of our operations.

Cleaning Procedures and Strategies

The following paragraphs describe our geen ceaning procedures and the chemicals, products and equipment that we currently use:

For general hard-urface cleaning, e.g., desks, tables, counters, etc., we use a hydrogen-peroxide based product that is Green Seal-certified. We have observed no noticeable decline in cleaning performance and costs are 75 percent less than the previously used product. Color-coded microfiber rags are used for single purposes, e.g., cleaning, dusting, wiping, etc. to reduce cross contamination. The use of foaming sprayer heads reduce inhalation hazards as well.

Hydrogen-peroxide based cleaners are used daily to clean restrooms. On a monthly basis, restrooms receive a complete application of a quaternary disinfectant applied with a foam gun to eradicate germs in the cracks and crevices. Microfiber flat mops are used because they hold more dirt and use less water. Partitioned buckets are also used to reduce cross contamination.

Handwashing dispensers in all restrooms, classrooms and faculty lounges have been changed to Green Seal-certified foaming soap dispensers with high efficiency cartridges.

Toilet paper and paper towels are within the guidelines for LEED certification for the amount of post-consumer paper content.

Trash can liners are now USGBC LEED certified, as well as meeting EPA guidelines for minimum post consumer content.

Our standard backpack vacuum has been upgraded with HEPA bags and filters. However, we have not made any changes to our vacuuming procedures and schedules. In general, all vacuuming takes place after school hours.

Carpet cleaning is managed by our dedicated carpet specialist who is trained in the use of our truck-mounted extractor, chemicals and is familiar with specific building needs. Carpets are spot-cleaned as needed using hydrogen peroxide based pre-spray and spotting cleaners followed by our extractors. All carpets are cleaned annually with a truck-mounted carpet extraction system. Kindergartens, preschool and handicapped classrooms are extracted quarterly to ensure these carpets stay cleaner longer.

Gym floors are sealed using low-VOC water-based modified urethane sealer applied via a T-bar handle and microfiber head. Preparation work is cut by 75 percent using battery-powered auto scrubbers that use Green Seal-certified neutral cleaners and expend 70 percent less water. Low-VOC sealers can be maintained and revitalized using green neutral cleaners that wear about twice as long as previous finishes.

Vinyl composite tile (VCT) floors were previously maintained by deep scrubbing and recoating with at least two or three coats of wax on an annual basis regardless of need. Products with high alkaline levels were used in the scrubbing process. Now, all VCT floors are cleaned using Green Seal-certified neutral cleaners with preparation work similar to gym floors. Green finishes cost an average of 50 percent more initially but last twice as long with proper maintenance. Old finishes are now stripped using green certified strippers and equipment.

We recycle rechargeable batteries from security and fire alarm panels, cell phones, radios, power tools, etc., and encourage our personnel to bring all single-use throwaway batteries from flashlights, calculators, wireless devices, toilet and wash basin flush valves, etc. into the office for collection and proper disposal. We also recycle inkjet and laser printer cartridges. Although limited in number, all burned-out T12 fluorescent lamps are treated as hazardous waste and sent to a recycling center because of their mercury content.


Custodial employees are updated quarterly in general safety/training meetings. Custodial supervisors conduct training with school educators regarding new processes. The custodial department also often act as guest speakers in the classrooms to talk about green initiatives and other custodial functions.

Program Evaluation

Unannounced building inspections are conducted monthly by the custodial supervisors using a checklist of standards to evaluate the overall cleanliness and operations of our facilities. Our standards are based on the Cleaning Industry Management Standards (CIMS) for cleaning practices but also include safety training, recordkeeping, IPM practices, etc. Standards are currently being updated to include newer green cleaning processes.

Building custodians also monitor our trash dumpsters so that scheduled pickups of partially full dumpster are avoided and the efforts of our recycling program are maximized.

Policies and Processes

We are determined to develop a green cleaning “culture” that will be sustainable into the future. The procedures under which green cleaning are addressed are incorporated into a broader policy titled "Environmental Awareness and Responsibility." Policies and procedures for the Salt Lake City School District are approved by the Board of Education; however, this DRAFT policy is under review and has not been approved as of July 2011.

Communication/Community engagement

Facilities services publishes a monthly newsletter updating the community on changes to our programs. Additionally, our custodians work closely with their school PTA to involve parent in our recycling programs.

Awards and Recognition

• EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Excellence Award: 2002.
• EPA Recognition – 2006: The Salt Lake City School District was presented with an Award of Recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency for implementing a pest-management program that reduces pests and the use of pesticides.
• IPM STAR Certification – 2008: The Salt Lake City School District is the 28th district in the nation to earn this distinction and the first in the Rocky Mountain area. Re-certified November 2010.
• International IPM Excellence Award – 2009: The Salt Lake City School District is the only school district in the nation to win the International Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Excellence Award.
• Energy Star Partner – 2009

Related Video

About Salt Lake City School District's IPM program:

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