The mission of the Plant Services and Custodial Operations Department at Clarke County School District (CCSD), Athens, Georgia, is to provide the best learning environment possible for its student. And knowing that some cleaning products can exacerbate asthma and other health conditions, the department implemented a green cleaning program throughout the district that focuses on cleaning for health.
It is written by KIMBERLY THOMAS that they launched the green cleaning program at CCSD in 2011, piloting the program in two administrative buildings and one school. Since that time, all 24 schools and administrative facilities have been converted to the green cleaning program. Today, the department is responsible for cleaning more than 2.5 million square feet, serving 14,800 students, and employing 120 custodians, all with an annual cleaning budget of $260,000.
Getting Things Going
Prior to implementing the green cleaning program, they — along with the district’s director of school nursing — noticed a growing number of district students on allergy prevention plans. To help create a healthier environment for students and staff, they made a promise to do whatever they could to eliminate asthma triggers in the school environment.
Air fresheners and products with heavy volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were completely eliminated and all equipment was replaced with alternatives that featured HEPA filtration. Those small changes then led to bigger moves, like a switch to cleaning products that have third-party certifications and a pilot program for engineered water that will eventually eliminate the need for chemicals in most applications.
The custodial staff began utilizing two green certified products for daily cleaning and one restaurant-grade, no-rinse sanitizer for cafeteria tables and chairs in all schools except for two. In those two schools, they use engineered water to clean the schools, along with a sanitizer in the cafeteria. The shift further reduced the use of chemicals in daily cleaning practices throughout the district.
they’ve switched to using only tap water in our machines to effectively remove floor finish and prepare most facility floors for finish application. This process has successfully been used on vinyl tile, marble, terrazzo, concrete and other flooring types.
The transition has significantly reduced employee slip and fall hazards and the costs associated with cleaning floors. It has also provided a healthy environment for summer cleaning.