Dixon Middle School (Provo, Utah)


Program Information
Number of students: 800
Square footage maintained: 131,000
Number of full-time custodians: 1 (plus 2.5 FTE custodial staff)
Annual cleaning budget: $100,000
Green cleaning team members: Joe Gledhill, Facilities and Maintenance Director; Jeff Hawkins, Head Custodian; Cami Speirs, Jenny Carlson, Taylor Campbell, Eric Heaton, Nancy Hopkins, Custodians; Brady Industries, Waxie Enterprises, Janitorial Product Distributors; BYU Facility Management Department, Community Group; Rosanna Ungerman, Principal; Randall Merrill, Superintendent

My Name is Jeff Hawkins and in early 2010 I was working as head custodian at an elementary school in Provo City School District in Provo, Utah. Our new facilities and maintenance director, Joe Gledhill, asked if I would be interested in helping overhaul the custodial department. He asked if I would evaluate a new cleaning program that he had been introduced to him about 2 years ago. The program was (OS1).

The district decided to pilot (OS1) at one building in our district and I was asked to manage the program. The school that was selected was an 80-year old building that was arguably the oldest and dirtiest building in our district, Dixon Middle School.

Major improvements were made to the school facilities. Janitor’s closets were gutted and remodeled. Dangerous chemicals were removed from the building and replaced by Green Seal-certified cleaning chemicals. Old, inefficient upright vacuums were replaced with CRI Green Label vacuums. Old rusted and dirty restroom cleaning equipment was replaced with flat mops, two-sided buckets and microfiber. Restroom tissue and towels were replaced with Green Seal-certified paper and hand soap.

New custodians were hired and intensively trained in the new (OS1) Basic Training program. The custodian staff trained and worked tirelessly to make Dixon Middle School “rise from the ashes.”

We also instituted a visually instructive workplace for all custodial service areas and storage. This included color-coded product grouping, an inventory system and product ordering system to minimize inventory costs while maximizing on-hand availability of all custodial materials and service products.

Within a few months, teachers began reporting that the air in Dixon smelled fresher and that the building “just felt better.” One teacher even reported that her migraine headaches and “blackouts” had stopped since we began the new cleaning program.

In May of 2011, only nine months after officially starting the new cleaning program, the school was audited and we were awarded a Green Certification Award at a national awards ceremony in Salt Lake City. We also received Outstanding Cleaning Worker Medals for our entire custodial staff, as well and a coveted Best Cleaning Industry Environmental Program Award.

Because of the overwhelming success of our program at Dixon Middle School, the superintendent and our school board have unanimously decided to move the new cleaning program in to two more schools this fall. We are optimistic that we can duplicate the success of the program in these buildings and eventually throughout Provo City School District.

Our school cleaning program is governed by the philosophy of “Clean for Health First and then Appearance” This philosophy ensures that all of the cleaning procedures that we have adopted have a scientifically proven benefit to the occupants of our school. While we wish to maintain a school that is both attractive and inviting, we understand that the health and safety of the students and faculty is our number one priority. We believe that the cleaning procedures that we have adopted have tremendous health benefits to the occupants of our building.

We use PortionPac cleaning chemicals that are effective at completing our cleaning and disinfecting tasks while remaining environmentally responsible. The chemicals we use are all color-coded so that our cleaning workers can easily identify the chemicals they are working with. The chemicals are also highly concentrated and pre-measured to eliminate waste. All of the chemicals used within our building are properly labeled and documented with current Material Safety Data Sheets. 100 percent of our daily cleaning chemicals are GS-37-Green Seal-certified, and our disinfectant is EPA-registered.

We have installed new soap and hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the school. We are using handwashing soap which is Green Seal certified. Sanitizer dispensers have been strategically placed in high-traffic locations and in the lunchroom to increase their use and effectiveness. Students and faculty are strongly encouraged to use both on a regular basis.

We use two-chamber mop buckets that separate clean water and cleaning solution from used recovered mop water. This ensures that we are always mopping with clean solution, and we are not cross-contaminating by mopping bacteria-laden used mop water throughout the building. Red restroom buckets and microfiber flat mops are designated to only be used in the cleaning of restroom floors and are never used for cleaning hallways or stairs also eliminating cross contamination.

Microfiber cloths were purchased and are color-coded to be used for specific cleaning tasks. Red cloths are only used in cleaning restrooms, green cloths for general cleaning tasks. The microfiber cloths are highly durable and are laundered daily to ensure that we are always using clean, and sanitary cloths.

The majority of our school’s custodians have been scheduled to work at a time when there are a minimal number of occupants in the school. This enables the cleaning crew to work more effectively and efficiently without disturbing daily activities in the building. During the daytime we routinely check hallways and restrooms to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

We replaced all of the vacuums in the school with backpack vacuums. The vacuums use a four-filter filtration system, which effectively remove 99.9 percent of all lung-damaging particles of one micron or larger. The vacuum is CRI Green Label-certified. The vacuum has significantly reduced the amount of dust in the building, and many of our occupants swear that they no longer suffer from allergy and asthma symptoms like they used to.

Training is a significant part of our cleaning program now. As an administrator of the program, I am required to attend a minimum of 32 hours of in-service training per year. All of the custodial employees in the building are required to attend 16 hours of training prior to being hired and are involved in ongoing weekly training meetings to reinforce the concepts they use on a daily basis. Employees are trained to be environmental stewards and are constantly monitored on proper use and disposal of chemicals and products used in the course of their shift. Used PortionPac pouches are rinsed out and returned to me for counting each day ensuring that chemicals are being used in proper amounts. The pre-measured packets greatly reduce the amount of waste ending up in the landfill compared to traditional gallon containers.

Prior to the implementation of the (OS1) program at our school, we had little or no tracking of anything within our cleaning program. Now we track chemical usage, training of our employees, complaints and concerns from the occupants of the building, expenditures, condition of the equipment we are using, etc. This is a much-needed improvement to our cleaning program as it enables us to see what we are doing well and what we need to improve on. We have just finished our first year on the (OS1) program. When we were initially evaluated on a scale of 1 to 100 of what quality cleaning organizations should be doing and we scored 6 out of 100. After only nine monthly on the programs we were evaluated again and received a score of 80 out of 100, and received ManageMen’s Green Certification Award.

In August of 2010, all of the custodial staff at Dixon Middle School attended 16 hours of training on our new (OS1) program. One of the main governing philosophies in (OS1) is to minimize environmental harm. Cleaning workers are educated about their responsibility to use chemicals in an environmentally responsible manner. They understand that all of the cleaning tools and chemicals that they use have been selected because of their environmentally friendly nature. Employees receive ongoing annual training to reinforce their pivotal role in protecting the environment.

In attempt to involve everyone in our new cleaning program, we held a town hall-style meeting at the school to educate the staff and other stakeholders about the changes in our custodial program. PTA, community council members and the general public were invited to attend. At the meeting we discussed how we had responsibly removed dangerous chemicals from the building and were replacing them with green cleaning chemicals. Teachers were asked not to bring any outside chemicals in to the school. We purchased spray bottles and supplied teachers with the new green chemicals for daily use in their classrooms.

Recycling bins were placed in each classroom to encourage recycling of paper and cardboard products. A recycling dumpster was placed in the parking lot in an accessible location for both the school and the general public to properly dispose recyclable items.

New hand soap and hand sanitizer dispensers were installed throughout the school and were stocked with Green Seal products. New toilet paper and paper-towel dispensers were also installed and stocked with Green Seal paper products.

Old, inefficient upright vacuums were replaced with CRI Green Label ProTeam Super Coach vacuums that capture dust and other particles rather than exhausting them back in to the indoor environment.

I placed a display board outside of my office with information about our cleaning program to help educate our students and the general public about our efforts to clean up the school. The board includes information about the environmentally responsible chemicals and tools we are using in the school.

Our program has been very successful in a relatively short matter of time. This significant improvement in our cleaning program at Dixon qualified us for recognition as a (OS1) Green Certified Organization at a national awards banquet held in Salt Lake City, Utah in July of 2011. In addition to the green certification recognition, all of the custodial workers at Dixon received Outstanding Cleaning Worker Medals for their exemplary service. Most important, and for which I am most proud, Dixon Middle School was honored to receive the Best Cleaning Industry Environmental Program Award. We received this award for the complete transformation to our building. We went from a building that had no rules, standards, guidelines or concerns for our environmental impact to a world-class cleaning operation that prides itself for the environmentally responsible way in which we are conducting business.