In 2003, Blackhawk Intermediate School (BIS) volunteered to test Green Seal-certified products introduced by several janitorial product distributors. After several months of testing, BIS switched to Green Seal-certified products for its everyday cleaning. The products are concentrated and blended with cold water only through a dispensing system, thus eliminating excessive waste and product use.

Over the next several years, BIS custodians gave up their "rags" and paper towels for microfiber cleaning cloths. Now, microfiber products are used not only for wiping, but also for mopping, dust mopping and cleaning chalkboards/whiteboards. Microfiber applicator pads are used with a backpack dispensing system to apply floor finish, eliminating even more waste. Color-coded mop handles are used to prevent cross-contamination.

A battery-operated auto-scrubber now replaces damp mopping in as many areas as possible. Carpets are dry-extracted on a bi-monthly schedule using a Green Seal-certified product. Matting is used at all entrances, vacuumed daily and extracted regularly using white vinegar and cold water to remove the ice-melt residue in the winter.

In the restrooms, Green Seal-certified foaming hand soap is used, along with hands-free paper-towel dispensers; some restrooms have auto-sinks installed. The custodians clean the restrooms using a no-touch cleaning system and biobased renewable products.

All paper products used in the restrooms are Green Seal-certified and made from 100 percent recycled fibers. Waste-can liners also are made from recycled materials. Workers use a black light when inspecting restrooms and other areas for cleanliness.

Most recently, BIS has gone from zone cleaning to team cleaning. All hard-surface floors and carpets are vacuumed using CRI Green Label-certified backpack vacuums. Less equipment, less water and less product are being used with team cleaning, therefore saving the district money.

All custodians receive ongoing training in products, equipment, equipment maintenance and procedures. Everyone follows the custodial training manuals that were developed by the head custodians and the supervisor of building and grounds.

In summer 2008, green floor finishes and green floor finish removers were tested throughout the building. This summer, green floor finish was the finish of choice for some areas of the building. Other areas are being tested with no floor finish. Some VCT and terrazzo floors have had their finishes removed and are being maintained with special diamond cleaning and polishing pads that are used on the auto-scrubber or the burnisher, which is equipped with dust control.

Throughout the year, fluorescent lamps, electronics and batteries are sent to be recycled.

Recycling bins used for paper and cardboard are in the halls, copy rooms, offices and every classroom. The science teacher and G.A.T.E students and teacher are working with the head custodian to develop a recycling program for plastic and aluminum.

In the winter, an environmentally friendly ice melt with color is used to eliminate overuse.

About an acre of land has been planted with wild flowers, and another half-acre has been planted with clover for the deer. This provides for outdoor classrooms and results in less grass cutting.

Twice a year, all air-handling units are vacuumed and washed out, and the filters are changed every six weeks, along with the filters in all the univents and self-contained units in the building.

The goal of Blackhawk Intermediate School is to provide students, staff and public with the most healthful, most environmentally friendly building in which to work, learn and play.

Learn about other Green Cleaning Award winners.

Program Information

Number of students: 567

Square footage maintained: 92,000

Number of full-time custodians: 5

Annual cleaning budget: less than $50,000

Green cleaning team members: Jim Perlik, Supervisor of Building and Grounds; Andi Lee-Marnicio, Head Custodian; Janet Girting, Jerry Richael, Tracy Sams, Nancy Tinney, Custodians; Janitor's Supply, Janitorial Product Distributor; Pitt Chemical & Sanitary Supply, D.H. Bertenthal & Sons

Story of Innovation

ENGAGING STUDENTS AND THE COMMUNITY: The head custodian engages students, staff and public in the responsibility of not only green cleaning, but also the process of being green. A large banner outside the custodial office depicts the custodial staff using green procedures and products, and "The Green Wall" lists the green word of the week.

Learn about other Green Cleaning Award winners.