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Why Cleaning Professionals Are Flocking to Janitor University

You know that feeling you get when you step off a roller coaster? That disoriented moment when you try to collect your thoughts because the rush was so incredible that “what’s next” becomes secondary to “wow, I can’t believe that just happened.”

That’s us right now, coming off a high from one of the best weeks of Janitor University (JU) in its almost 25-year history. We had the largest class in several years, with a diverse group of attendees joining us from academia, government agencies, laboratories and building service contractors. Some attendees were taking refresher courses to earn their masters or professor certificates, but we also hosted a lot newcomers to the class. Why is this exciting? Because it tells us that many professionals are interested in learning how to manage cleaning in a way that promotes a healthy indoor environment rather than polluting the indoors by spreading around dirt through ineffective products and practices.

As students get settled in on the first day, we talk through the current issues in the industry and why a standardized approach to cleaning is so important.

Since we’re regularly out in the field working one-on-one with managers, janitors and custodians, we have a lot of great images and stories that bring these points to life. The most important lesson during the first day of class is the stigma attached to cleaning and how we need to work in a way that brings professionalism to the industry and pride to the individuals performing the work. tThe first day of this course sets up the next day where we defined what a high performance cleaning system looks like.

On the second day of the program, we review the four most important functions of cleaning management. This includes:

1) Daily kitting and how to monitor the amount of solution and product used by custodial workers.

2) Tracking communication for complaints, requests, mistakes and compliments.

3) Practical tracking of equipment use in order to plan for preventative maintenance.

4) Performing quality assessments internally based on process factors. We like to call this “quality assessments without the white glove.”

Another great piece students to JU enjoy is the work loading exercise. Recognizing that most cleaning professionals can’t agree on a common-set of work loading terms, we distill the components into a game to help simplify the principles behind work loading. Because, simplification! Beyond all the knowledge and education, attendees also benefit from the networking that happens during the event. We regularly hear stories from people who develop professional contacts and friendships that last long after Janitor University is over.

All attendees are encouraged to sign up for the class at least once every three years, because we’re regularly updating the curriculum so it reflects the current recommended best practices for cleaning.

Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” As an industry, we have to get smarter and change the way we’re cleaning our buildings. If the students to last week’s JU are any indication, we’re on the way. We’ve had more than 2,000 people complete the program over the years, and attendees regularly tell us that JU is the most comprehensive cleaning management curriculum they’ve seen.

If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming Janitor University, stay tuned! We’ve got exciting news as we’ll be taking JU on the road in 2018. We are looking for more ways to enable cleaning professionals to participate in our courses, so we hope you’ll join us!

 

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The Universal Language of Cleaning

Language. It’s one of the most beautiful yet challenging aspects of training custodial workers. Because many cleaners have either recently immigrated to the U.S. or are first-generation citizens, our trainers and auditors encounter a variety of languages in the field—Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Burmese, French and Polish, just to name a few. Within those languages, we encounter even more sub-languages; for example, Cubans in Florida speak a different dialect of Spanish than Guatemalans. The French spoken by Haitians is different than French spoken in Montreal. You can imagine the challenge this presents during training or when we create training materials for custodial workers.

One might think that because many immigrants tend to live in close-knit communities with others from their same region, that they may not want or need  to learn English when they come to the U.S.; however, research points to the opposite. In the book “Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society,” researchers found that 99 percent of immigrant students studied felt that English was important for them to learn. Many immigrants want to learn English not only to assist with social interactions, but because they feel it’s critical for success—another study reveals that 85 percent of immigrants say that it is hard to get a good job or do well in the U.S. without learning English.

So how do we communicate with workers while also providing them with tools to educate and empower them? We do it with the language of (OS1ian). If you’ve ever spent any time in a hospital listening to doctors and nurses converse, you know that they have their own set of terms which can make it sound like they are speaking gibberish to anyone not in the medical profession. Similarly, lawyers communicate using “legalese”—technical jargon that fill legal documents. So, we asked, why not develop a professional language for the cleaning industry?

Just a few of the key terms a Restroom Specialist must learn to speak (OS1)ian.

(OS1)ian — a universal language for the cleaning industry— was developed based on specialist duties and identifyed key terms associated with each position. Each position has approximately 45 basic words and 10 to 15 terms that a specialist must be able to use in their day-to-day operations. For example, the vocabulary of a vacuum specialist includes vac station, paddle tool and inspect plug. A light-duty specialist will learn terms like wastebasket, barrel and fill line.

To assist with literacy, specialists complete an (OS1)ian worksheet in Boot Camp with the key terms provided in greyscale. The intent isn’t to test or trick workers, but to help them develop both written and oral proficiency of the terms. As the cleaner adopts new responsibilities, their vocabulary will expand to include as many as 250 phrases, helping them develop a working English vocabulary.

Before rolling (OS1ian) out, we tested it with a third-shift crew at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who spoke Chinese, Russian and Romanian. It was met with an overwhelming reception—finally, we were all able to speak the same language. In years since, we’ve found that using a standardized vocabulary benefits workers with dyslexia, functional illiteracy and cognitive perception disorders.

When everyone speaks the same language, cleaning processes and systems are safer and more efficient —there are fewer misunderstandings and mistakes. But the benefits extend well beyond the workplace—learning (OS1ian) empowers workers personally as well. It provides them with common set of English terms to set them on a path of career success as they create a new life in the U.S.

The limits of my language are the limits of my world.

‒Ludwig Wittgenstein

The Problem with the Way We’re Training Custodial Workers Today

So he could afford his daughter’s tuition at a local private school, Bob took on a second job as a custodian at the school. He looked forward to the job, much of his day was spent behind a desk, so custodial work would keep him active and involved in her school. He was also was excited to learn something new.

On his first day, Bob showed up for work and was shown a short movie about cleaning chemicals and how to use them. Next, his boss showed him his cart which overflowed with spray bottles, cloths, bags, gloves, floor scrapers and mops. “Duane’s going to show you around tonight,” he advised. “Tomorrow you’ll start on your own.”

“I’ve been doing this for 22 years,” Duane told him as they walked between classrooms. “I know they say to clean from top to bottom, but I’ve got a great system down that works for me.”

The next day, Bob was on his own. The work was hard—much harder than he expected. He strained his back emptying trash and his hands cramped from mopping the floor. When he woke up the next morning, he had trouble getting out of bed. After a few weeks, Bob quit. He found another job at a local warehouse that would help him supplement tuition costs. But had he received the proper training, there’s a good chance Bob would still be there today.

 

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Injury caused from improper lifting or repetitive motions is just one of the many issues that can result when we neglect to train our custodial workers. In many cleaning operations, custodial training includes a hodgepodge of show-and-tell, classroom-style instruction and vendor-led training programs specific to a particular product. Very few cleaning operations have a comprehensive training program in place that not only teaches employees HOW to clean, but WHY they clean. Training should not only provide workers with the overall understanding of why their jobs are critical and how cleaning impacts the health of people in the buildings they clean, but also protocols for how and when to perform specific cleaning tasks.

Last week, we held our annual (OS1) Coach Class. This intensive two-day program provides trainers and instructors with the latest information and resources needed to maintain a world-class cleaning program. One of the key benefits to this class is that participants share best practices and insights they have gathered as they plan their schedule for the upcoming year. We are continually updating our curriculum so that all of the (OS1) trainers and coaches have the most recent research and data to support their cleaning protocols. The coaches then take these training programs back to their facilities and use them to conduct ongoing education for their custodial teams during the next year. 

Participants in our (OS1) Coach Class spend an intensive two days learning and planning custodial training programs for 2018.

Our studies have found that cleaning operations supported with a comprehensive training program, such as that which is provided within the (OS1) System, can improve productivity by as much as 16 percent. In one example, the average square footage of cleaning productivity (SFPE) improved from approximately 27,000 SFPE to 39,000 SFPE. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Cleaning workers understand their importance of their work as it relates to the success of the business and the health of building occupants.
  2. They are taught how to properly perform cleaning tasks in a way that minimizes risk and injury.
  3. Workers are empowered through the educational process and receive one-on-one coaching by expert trainers.

It’s time we stop treating custodial work like it’s something that everyone automatically knows how to do. We can’t just throw a mop in someone’s hand and expect them to go to work. This approach results in the issues many cleaning operations face today: injuries, high turnover and low-morale. Cleaning is a profession, and like any professional field requires proper training and education.

As Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

If you don’t have a comprehensive training program in place for new employees and continuing education programs for your current staff members, it’s time to give some thought to how you can improve these resources. Your cleaning program deserves more and so do your employees.

The Five P’s of Pathogen Cleaning

As any professional in our industry knows, cleaning isn’t just about removing dirt, but also stopping the spread of bacteria and infection in the buildings we clean. It’s not just about appearance, but also about health—the health of the people in the building and the people cleaning the building.

As we wrap up our safety series for National Safety Month, we’re putting the spotlight on pathogens. More than ever, educating our custodial teams about pathogens—what they are, how they spread and what cleaners can do to protect themselves—has become critical beyond the healthcare world. Cleaners in a variety of public and private settings are regularly exposed to biological hazards that carry risks and responsibilities. Equipping custodial workers with the education they need to effectively clean for health not only empowers them, but will also improve the health of our buildings.

When training custodial teams about pathogens, consider the Five P’s of Pathogens.*

The five P’s include:

  1. Pathogen types: Broadly speaking, a pathogen is basically anything that can cause disease. Different types of pathogens may include:
    • Bacteria: Bacteria are single-celled organisms that can thrive in extreme conditions. They do not require a living host, such as a human being, in order to reproduce. Salmonella, E.coli and MRSA are just a few of the types of bacteria that custodial workers would encounter.
    • Viruses: Generally smaller than bacteria, viruses require a living host to reproduce. Viruses are likely to produce an outbreak of illness, such as influenza or the common cold.
    • Parasites: Parasites live on or inside a living host. They can cause a variety of issues, including nausea and muscle pain. Examples might include headline or tapeworm, depending on the mode of transmission.
    • Fungi: As the name implies, fungi are molds and yeasts that commonly cause respiratory problems in humans.
  2. Pathways: The primary way a pathogen can enter your body is through inhalation, ingestion (in food or water) or through direct contact with bodily fluids or blood. Custodial workers with cuts or abrasions and who do not use protective gloves can be at higher risk of exposure.
  3.  Problems: If a pathogen enters the body, it can result in temporary illness to the custodial worker, such as influenza or a cold, to something more dangerous and deadly, like MRSA. Because custodial teams often touch many surfaces in a building, they also have the potential  or spreading the pathogen unknowingly, which is why proper hand washing is essential.
  4. Places: Pathogens can be present on most hard surfaces, but are commonly found on fomites, or high-touch areas, which include light switches, elevator buttons, telephones and door handles. Kitchen areas and restrooms can also provide hospitable environments to pathogens.
  5. Protection: Wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential based on the potential hazards that may exist. Protective gloves and hand washing between areas can be an effective way to break the chain of infection.

For custodial workers to take pride in what they do, they need to be educated on the importance of their work and recognized for their efforts. We have a quick reference guide to understanding all of the microbiology used in the cleaning industry that you can use in your educational programs. “Microbiology for Cleaning Workers Simplified” offers the basics to help cleaning workers understand the basics of sanitation, vocabulary and the history of cleaning for health. You can check it out here. 

*This is by not intended to serve as a comprehensive resource on pathogen cleaning, but a baseline primer you can use to help educate custodial workers.

Janitor University: Educating People from Around the Industry and Beyond

Approximately 10 percent of the average custodial budget is dedicated to “stuff” or the products and equipments used to clean the facility—that’s about $20 billion a year, based on our estimates. The other 90 percent of a custodial budget is dedicated to labor, which adds up to approximately $200 billion a year. Outside of a few federal regulatory standards established by agencies like the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), very few standards or systems are in place to regulate how cleaning is performed. As a result, people clean in a variety of different ways, which results in cleaning that looks like this:

and this:

There’s also a large gap in the amount of training resources available to educate facility managers and custodial professionals on how to manage the products and equipment used in their business (10%) and the amount of training to help them manage the labor (90%).

There are several fantastic training programs offered by manufacturers and distributors around topics like disinfection and stain removal, but very few provide insights on how to create a career path for frontline cleaning workers to reduce turnover.

That’s where Janitor University (JU) comes in. JU is a professional development class designed for cleaning executives, facility directors, contractors and anyone else with relationship to a professional cleaning operation. The curriculum, developed by end-users, is updated on an ongoing basis and largely focuses on how to manage that 90 percent of your budget. It teaches attendees how to develop custodial operations that can be managed and tracked on a daily basis.

We’ve recently started to see more people attending JU who aren’t directly responsible for cleaning operations, but, for example, may be designing the rooms and picking the surfaces in a hospital or laboratory that will need to be cleaned and maintained. This tells us that more people are paying attention to cleaning and understanding its impact—a great thing! Last week, we hosted a JU Train the Trainer course that included representatives from one of the leading facilities management companies, industry manufacturers, product designers, professional trainers and an architect!

Our April Train the Trainer session brought together dozens of people, including facility management professionals, designers and architects.

When people come out to JU for the first time, they never know what quite to expect. While we do a lot of classroom style instruction during a JU session supported by real-life scenarios and data we’ve collected, there is also a lot of dialogue and sharing between participants. Attendees to JU will leave with several new contacts, an understanding of how to effectively manage that remaining 90 percent of their budget and have hopefully had some fun!

As anyone who is responsible for cleaning knows, custodial operations have a significant impact on the health of building occupants, the lifespan of a building and the overall cost of a facility’s budget (more than 30 percent!). So it’s exciting to see the different groups of people who want to learn more about what we do. When more people understand how to clean using a systematic and measurable approach, everyone wins.

The Cleaning Gazette – January 2015

Dedication and Quality Training Leads to Recognizable Improvements at LAHH

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Submitted by Nancy Albin
LAHH

 

The LAHH Christmas Bowling Party 2012. In front, Daniel and Bryan – Light Duty Specialists in the certification program.

“What we’re doing is recognizable”, said Mike during the LAHH supervisor meeting. Mike manages a team of six custodial specialists of which four are people with special needs. Jamie, on Mike’s team, has started to show improvement with managing the Super Coach BackPac Vacuum, even though her hand-eye coordination and equilibrium are impacted by her disability. But it is clear her heart is not! Mike told us he is so proud of her as she has been working hard to learn the specialty and not give up.

Mike also shared that Jamie has been improving and how her work is recognizable. And this is what he loves about (OS1) and working as a utility specialist. Guido went on to say, “Mike, you are right. When we look back at our finished work we can see a change, we can see something different from before. We are improving something.” Guido shared that during the last certification class, the homework focused on cleaning plays for Light Duty Specialist and in question #2, asked what should be picked up from the floor prior to the Vacuum Specialist arriving to the area? Mike responded that Jamie hasn’t had to pick up anything too large for the vacuum or call back a Light Duty specialist. The Light Duty Specialists on Mike’s team are also in the certification program. Quality in education extends to quality in the workplace. What is happening in the classroom at the LAHH (OS1) training facility is recognizable . . . in the workplace.

 

University of Michigan Saves $2.1 Million Per Year and Improves Cleaning

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Submitted by ProTeam
CGN Editorial

The ProTeam Super CoachVac was featured in a series of posters at University of Michigan to educate the community about the elements of the new cleaning program.

 

In 2009, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor started a five year rollout of a comprehensive, high-performance cleaning management system, ManageMen‘s Operating System 1®, (OS1). John Lawter, Associate Director of Plant Building and Ground Services, chose (OS1) to improve productivity in light of ongoing budget cuts.

“We knew we were facing multiple years of reductions so we offered up 10% over 5 years with an understanding we would have a couple of years reprieve to protect our new program.” said Lawter. And since implementing (OS1), “We have met that 10 percent goal of $2.1 million and managed to improve services at the same time.”

With 200 facilities to clean covering a total of 15 million sq. ft., Lawter’s staff has gone from cleaning 36,000 sq. ft. per custodian to 40,000 sq. ft. per custodian, while improving the health of the environment. One of the biggest tenets of (OS1) is to clean for health first, then appearance. It was this and the simplified workflow that appealed to Lawter who wanted more consistency and fewer products.

“(OS1) was the only operating system we could find that was comprehensive and had been tested in a University setting for better than 10 years,” said Lawter. “We visited those programs as part of our due diligence and were impressed.”

In (OS1), custodians specialize in specific tasks, and they do all tasks of a single function at one time. This reduces wasted time switching tools and backtracking. Vacuum specialists may vacuum for an entire shift using a backpack vacuum designed by ProTeam® to reduce strain to the user.

“Dr. Berry’s study at the University of North Carolina showed us that, used properly, the backpack vacuum was a more ergonomic and effective product than an upright,” said Lawter.

Lawter swapped a ramshackle collection of uprights of different ages and models for ProTeam’s 11-pound Super CoachVac®.

“There’s no beater bar to throw dust around,” said Lawter. “It reduces the amount of dust particles in the air.” Two of Lawter’s staff who suffered from allergies reported their symptoms noticeably improving after switching to the backpack vacuum. ProTeam is partnered with the American Lung Association in efforts to educate the public about the importance of healthy indoor air.

Prior to implementing (OS1), the biggest problem Lawter faced was inconsistent performance, a symptom of the zone cleaning system they were using previously.

“No two custodians clean exactly alike,” said Lawter. “So, when one custodian is responsible for everything in an area, there will naturally be differences in the level of service. Our customers noticed those inconsistencies.”

According to Jeffrey L. Campbell, Ph.D., Chair of the BYU Facility Management program, Most custodial operations: “1) have no quantifiable standards; 2) are based solely on appearance; 3) have little or no method of measuring effectiveness and performance; 4) are not based on actual research; and 5) are driven by chemical and equipment manufacturers.”

Campbell recorded the story of the University of Michigan’s cleaning success along with the University of North Carolina and two other universities that implemented (OS1) in the article “Cutting Costs and Improving Outcomes for Janitorial Services” which appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of Facilities Manager and was reprinted in the Cleaning Gazette Newsletter the following May.

“In an industry that has been around as long as public buildings themselves, janitorial methods have seen little progress. As a matter of fact, most janitors today use the same tools and processes that were used 50 years ago,” said Campbell.

In addition to the timesaving backpack vacuums, (OS1) reduced Lawter’s chemical inventory from 50 products to less than 10. Individual use portion packs ensure that custodians get what they need and only what they need to clean every day. For Lawter, this hugely simplified the process.

“We used to have a committee of 30 people that would meet once a month and review the latest and greatest new products that came down the line,” said Lawter. “It was very inefficient, time-consuming, expensive, and led to a proliferation of products out there being tested by our workforce. ManageMen has a research and development arm for (OS1) users that does that, so I don’t directly deal with salesman. I love that.”

John Walker, President of ManageMen and progenitor of (OS1), explains how the echo chamber of product claims in the cleaning industry is rarely substantiated by science. “Everyone sells productivity tools. People buy them to save money and time, but they never document that they did it,” said Walker. “The University of Michigan’s janitorial department is a pioneer in documenting over $2 million in savings. They gave it back to the university.”

As reported in the Cleaning Gazette Newsletter last July, Sightlines, a prominent facility management assistance firm, did a thorough evaluation of the University of Michigan in the fall of 2010. They compared the data to a database of 300 institutions of higher learning and a group of 10 peer universities chosen by the administration.

This survey was taken in the midst of the (OS1) rollout at the university. The custodial department had not yet reached the 80-percent audit they hoped for. They were still rated as the number one organization in cleanliness evaluations. The study also showed high production rates and low cost of materials in comparison to their peers and the greater database.

“They got to a 2.5 cleaning level on a 3.5 APPA budget,” said Walker. “And in the Sightlines study, they beat virtually everyone in the country and in their peer group after adopting (OS1). There has never been a collection of data like this.”

In their most recent (OS1) audit last month, the University of Michigan surpassed their goal of an 80 percent audit, reaching 83 and 87 percent. According to Walker, it is the work of people like Lawter and his staff in documenting the effectiveness of (OS1) that will someday take the cleaning industry by storm. When cleaning is standardized, workflows are simplified, and productive tools are utilized, unbelievable savings are possible. “You can reduce costs and improve results with this documented system,” said Walker.

(OS1) Green Certified and Green Programs of Excellence Announced

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We are thrilled to announce the organizations who have earned their (OS1) Green Certified Program Awards and/or the (OS1) Green Program of Excellence Awards for the 2011/2012 Audit Season. Winners will be presented their official award plaque at the 11th Annual Simon Institute Symposium in New Orleans, LA next week. To see a complete list of who earned these prestigious awards, please click on a link below:

 

Green Certified Program recipients showing their awards at the Simon Institute Symposium - 2011

About the Awards…

(OS1) organizational certification is determined by our (OS1) Audit criteria, on a building-to-building basis, within a cleaning organization. Currently, there are approximately 340 different factors we look at that cause any building to be clean.  We audit what is going on at the actual site, as well as, the management of that site.

(OS1) Green Certifed Awards are presented to facilities that have submitted to the (OS1) Progress Audit and earned at least an 80% score or higher. Programs that earn a 90% or higher score, earn the (OS1) Green Certified – Program of Excellence Award. A facility that achieves this certification is successfully managing their (OS1) Program. At this level, an (OS1) organization is reducing environmental risk and the probability of unwanted effects. Specifically, (OS1) Green Certified Programs and (OS1) Green Programs of Excellence can demonstrate the following:

  • Cleaning for Health first and then for appearance
  • Disposing of cleaning wastes in a environmentally responsible manner
  • Increased worker safety and awareness
  • Increased level of sanitation of building surfaces
  • Responsible and proper removal of pollutants from the facility
  • Reduction of chemical, particle and moisture residue
  • Minimization of human exposure to pollutants

Cleaning for Health at The University of Texas at Austin

A control cabinet at The University of Texas of Austin holds approximately three months of chemicals used to clean the buildings on campus.

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By Bobby Moddrell – Custodial Services Division
The University of Texas at Austin

 

For the past decade, the Custodial Services Division of The University of Texas at Austin has maintained over 12 million square feet of the campus using our (OS1) process. (OS1) promotes the standardization of the custodial operation through the use of environmentally friendly products, ergonomic tools, worker safety, strategically assigned workloads for each Full Time Equivalent Employee (FTE), and a robust training program. With this process, Custodial Services has maintained a consistent cleaning program across campus despite the size of the operation and the varying demands of each building.

The (OS1) process has also ushered in a sustainable approach to cleaning, that is easily reflected in our chemical program, water usage, paper and plastic products inventory, team cleaning system and indoor air quality. Prior to (OS1), UT Austin’s Custodial Services’ chemical program consisted of over 200 different chemicals which is fairly standard for most cleaning operations of this size. Since the implementation of (OS1), that number has been reduced almost 88%, a grand total of 25 chemicals. This reduction is due in large part to PortionPac, a company that provides environmentally responsible chemical concentrates which are packaged in individual pacs that are pre-measured for a specific container. By using one pac per bucket, bottle or tank of water [known in (OS1) as “the rule of one“], we realize a safer, more accurate use of chemicals, thus eliminating unnecessary waste and environmental pollution. Of our four daily use chemicals, three are Green Seal Certified and the daily germicide used to reduce pathogenic microorganisms is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Subscribing to the (OS1) process has also decreased Custodial Services’ annual water usage by roughly 70%. While the effective measurement and use of chemicals contributes to this figure, it is the use of two-sided mop buckets and microfiber cloths that has had the greatest impact on water usage. Traditional mop buckets hold five gallons of water, but the two-side restroom and utility buckets used in our program hold 1.25 and 2 gallons of water respectively. Additionally, a two-sided mop bucket system keeps clean solution and contaminated water separate, thus ensuring the longevity of the cleaning solution and reducing cross contamination. The coordinated use of microfiber flat mops also helps conserve water.

Traditional string mops transfer more water than necessary to hard floor surfaces, making it difficult to clean and absorb the dirtied water effectively. Moreover, the fibers of a traditional string mop are incapable of trapping the microorganisms targeted in common cleaning procedures. Microfiber mops, however, absorb up to six times their own weight in liquid pick up and retention and their unique fibers have been shown to reduce bacteria up to 96%. The use of two-side mop buckets and microfiber mops have been instrumental in our decreased water usage. The switch alone has brought our estimated water usage from 863,340 gallons annually to 262,302 gallons for a savings of 601,038 gallons of water each year.

Custodial Services’ commitment to sustainability is reflected in the choice of paper and plastic products used across campus. Both our toilet paper and hand towels contain high percentages of recycled fiber and post-consumer content. Custodial Services has also made the switch to a more sustainable trash liner. These new liners are made from linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and meet the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement guidelines. This means the liners’ post-consumer content can range from 10%-100%. All liners contain 100% post-consumer recycled resin. The liners have reduced our annual liner waste to landfills by an estimated 36%. Our previous liners contributed 220,459 pounds of waste annually, but the new liners will only contribute an estimated 141,847 pounds for a reduction of 78,612 pounds per year.

Through the daily maintenance of campus buildings, Custodial Services is doing its part to sustain the built environment. This effort not only prolongs the life of buildings and materials therein, but also improves the quality of life inside these buildings by all occupants. The Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) posits that individuals spend nearly 90% of their time indoors, whether at work, home or in transit. As such, it has become increasingly important to maintain an indoor environment free of pollutants. A recent study measured the indoor air quality of a building maintained with an average upright vacuum and found the level of pollutants equal to roughly twenty times what the EPA allows Americans to pollute from their cars. This is not surprising considering cloth filter bags on traditional upright vacuums only remove 30% of pollutants from the air. In an effort to improve indoor air quality, Custodial Services elected to use Super CoachVac backpack vacuums manufactured by ProTeam. These vacuums provide four-level filtration, removing 99.9% of lung-damaging particles.

Additionally, these vacuums help protect carpet, extending the life of carpet and reducing the need for replacement. It is this high level of carpet care and air purification that has earned the Pro Team Vacuum the Carpet Research Institute’s (CRI) green label certification.