Although the East Meadow School District began to use green cleaning methods in 2005, the program grew substantially in spring 2008 with the appointment of Patrick Pizzo as director of facilities and operations. Shortly after his appointment, Pizzo met with the district's cleaning committee to explore additional methods to be introduced. The committee moved immediately to replace all ammonia-based cleaning products with green-certified products, and replace products containing bleach. Soon after, Pizzo met with students, head custodians and local government officials to begin a bottle-recycling program throughout the district. During spring 2009, the district introduced the use of ionized water spray cleaners. This past spring, the district also began using diamond pads for maintaining terrazzo floors in corridors. This system eliminates the use of chemicals such as strippers and wax, yet leaves floors with a high shine.

The district considers the safety and well-being of students and staff to be of the utmost priority. Inasmuch as the district's efforts are funded by taxpayer money, the district is conscientious about its obligation to be fiscally responsible while ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff. Fortunately, the district has been able to realize substantial savings while simultaneously reducing its impact on the environment.

Pizzo meets on a monthly basis with all head custodians in the district. In addition to discussing custodial procedures and issues and providing training in topics such as boiler maintenance, CPR and safety, vendors are invited to demonstrate new cleaning products and methods. Recently, one vendor demonstrated a steam cleaner that kills bacteria and germs without the use of any chemical. This equipment is being used in a number of buildings in the district. During summer 2009, the district changed over to hands-free soap dispensers, using foaming hand soap, a green-certified product packaged in sealed cartridges to prevent product contamination. Another recent change has been discontinuing the use of pre-treated dust mops and replacing them with microfiber mops.

Microfiber mops are machine washable and do not require any detergent for laundering. Custodians have reported that the microfiber mops do a better job than treated mops and leave no residue behind.

Pizzo welcomes input from custodial staff, administrators and support staff, as well as parents and students. He meets every month with PTA representatives at district safety committee meetings. Recently, the account clerk in the facilities office suggested that the district could save a great deal of money by using higher-quality toilet paper and paper towels, both constructed of recycled materials, in conjunction with new dispensers designed to reduce waste. Soon after, dispensers were installed throughout the district at no charge. Feedback from custodians already has indicated less waste and cleaner bathrooms as a result of the change.

Shortly after his appointment, Pizzo established a districtwide program of preventive maintenance for heating systems. The program is expected to improve air quality while lowering fuel consumption.

Recently, the district began replacing many of its incandescent lighting fixtures in machine areas and boiler rooms with compact fluorescent light bulbs. CFL bulbs are nearly four times as efficient as incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, saving the district money while reducing energy consumption. The district also is piloting the use of LED lighting in areas of the administrative building. LED lighting has a much longer service life, with even more energy efficiency than that offered by CFL lighting.

Although the district has made great strides in providing a safe and healthful environment for its students and teachers, Pizzo is not satisfied with the status quo. Under his direction, the district is exploring several new options, including solar panels and wind power, as well as a number of energy-conservation projects.

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Program Information

Number of students: 7,210

Square footage maintained: 1.34 million

Number of full-time custodians: 89

Annual cleaning budget: $305,500

Green cleaning team members: Patrick Pizzo, Director of Facilities & Operations; Dan Pletenycky, Head Custodian, Clarke MS/HS; Bob Callan, Head Custodian, Parkway Elementary; Mike Ewald, Head Custodian, Campo Center; Kevin McVey, Knight Marketing Corp. of N.Y., Janitorial Product Distributor

Story of Innovation

GREEN OUTDOORS: Immediately after his appointment, Pizzo halted the use of weed killers on district fields, instead using rechargable line trimmers. Turf treatments for playing fields are organic, using products such as compost tea, corn gluten, black strap molasses, feather meal and bone meal.

Learn about other Green Cleaning Award winners.