GCA 2011 K-12 Honorable Mention: Lee's Summit R-7 School District (with Related Video)

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Lee's Summit R-7 School District (Lee's Summit, Missouri)


Program Information
Number of students: 17,500
Square footage maintained: 2,970,000
Number of full-time custodians: 148 full-time, 2 half-time, 20 substitutes
Annual cleaning budget: $310,000 (operating budget)
Green cleaning team members: Jay Helland, Director of Facilities; Pur-O-Zone, Massco, Citywide, Janitorial Product Distributors

Team Cleaning began in 2008; the planning stages began as early as June of 2008 with the first building implementing the process on December 8, 2008. At each site as the new cleaning process was introduced, microfiber products became the new “norm” instead of cotton rags/mops/dust mops with mop oil treatment. Backpack vacuums with HEPA filtration were also introduced, reducing the need to go from a dust mop to a vacuum – it cleans hard surfaces as well as soft. In converting to team cleaning, budgets were stretched; no longer did we have to supply each custodian with every item needed to clean a traditional zone area – you buy only what is needed for each specialist; the use of one backpack vacuum instead of three, for example.

Beginning in 2005, carpet cleaning began to a Green Seal-certified system that goes through six stage filters to help improve IAQ. It conserves natural resources; uses up to 97 percent less water than typical high-flow extractors, reducing possibility of mold and mildew. The need for blowers to dry carpet is eliminated, and there is no need to run air conditioners to remove humidity caused by water extraction. It is non-toxic and contains no carcinogens. Training was provided to all building managers in June 2008 when all buildings were supplied with equipment for carpet cleaning; a second training was given to all building managers and crew leaders in June 2011. Yearly refreshers are done for all staff with hands-on training supplied by all building managers for their crew.

Starting in 2006, touchless cleaning systems were introduced in the high schools. Application of chemical is through a metering tip that helps to ensure accurate dilution of chemicals. This reduces the chemical usage by approximately 90 percent. It has been proven through independent EPA–certified lab that use without chemicals reduces more than 99.9 percent of targeted microbes on a surface; this qualifies it as a “sanitizing device” without chemicals. The ability to rinse the surfaces after they are disinfected and then vacuum this dirty water into a tank and completely remove it from the surface helps eliminate cross contamination that has occurred in the past. In June 2007, each building that has the capability of utilizing this piece of equipment had one for use.

The district began use of auto scrubbers with water technology on board in May of 2007. The first auto scrubbers were purchased for use – chemical is no longer needed to clean floors, even in the school cafeterias. Each time an auto scrubber needs to be replaced, it has been replaced by one that utilizes water technology. The change from daily scrubbing pads that are tossed into the landfill after use to daily scrubbing brushes began in 2008. In July 2011, the change to daily scrubbing brushes was completed districtwide. The only pads being used at this time are scrub and recoat or stripping pads.

In an effort to prevent the need for stripping floors so often, we began a trial of using plastic snap caps to go over chair glides. This trial was conducted at three buildings; the success was seen when a cafeteria floor in one elementary was able to be lightly scrubbed and recoated instead of a deep scrub or stripping. These are being continually implemented throughout the district; they are now in 23 of 31 buildings. There have been a total of 28,600 of these purchased through July 2011.

Microfiber products are now being used in all buildings; these are color-coded to reduce risk of cross contamination. Flat mops have replaced the traditional mop bucket with wringer and cotton string mops. Less water/chemicals are used in the charging bucket and it provides an easy way to clean items such as markerboards, desks, tables, walls, etc., in a shorter amount of time.

Beginning in 2005, flat finish mops were introduced. This is a quicker, easier method of applying finish and there is no need for a finish bucket to be utilized. Product is not wasted and application takes less time than the traditional method. In 2011, three finish applicators were acquired to test at the high school campuses. Study is still being conducted on the efficiency and savings that can be experienced by using these pieces of equipment.

Backpack vacuums were established as daily vacuums beginning in December 2008; this process was completed in August 2011. High-efficiency particulate air filtration on these units increases the IAQ of our buildings.

In April 2008, electrically charged water units were tested against the current disinfectant being used and another water technology using an ATP meter. The units tested the same as our disinfectant and beat the other water technology. Additional units were purchased in August 2008, and after educating the building principals, PTA presidents and other district administrators, the decision was made to purchase more units at 10 buildings. The completion of the transition was made in June 2011; we are reducing chemical usage by eliminating a need for a disinfectant to sanitize surfaces, we no longer need a special glass cleaner, the heavy duty cleaner has been eliminated in most applications and this is the best carpet spotter we have found. We have had custodians tell us that they are not bothered with asthma when they get home because they are not using the chemicals – IAQ is improved.

Alternative floor finishes are being investigated and will be tried to try to reduce the time between stripping of floors. Chemical-free stripping pads were tried at three locations this past summer, 2011.

Microfiber burnishing pads have been tested since April 2009; durability has been improving, and hopes are to be able to utilize one micro fiber pad for the same time period as at least four boxes of traditional burnishing pads. This will reduce waste and enable us to reuse this item for months before it needs recycled and replaced.

Walkoff matting is being replaced by matting that is made of recycled plastic bottles and rubber tires. This matting has a higher nap that removes more dirt and moisture from shoes of those entering our buildings. This is aiding us in stopping the dirt at the door and not letting it get farther into our facilities.

The district bales cardboard, recycles fluorescent light bulbs/tubes (use green bulbs), recycles containers for aluminum, plastic, and paper are at each facility and accessible to the general public at over 90 percent of these locations. Information has gone out to all staff, students, parents and citizens of the community informing them of these locations and how they can help the environment and the schools by recycling. District high school students offer recycling of electronics yearly to anyone for a minimal fee. Ink cartridges and cell phones are collected and recycled.

The district replaced its delivery vehicles with four electric trucks.

The department is seeing a reduction in cost for cleaning chemicals as the new technologies are introduced. The microfiber products are lasting longer, which eliminates the restocking fees that were felt when dealing with the older traditional cotton rags/mops/dust mops.

A conversion to new hands-free paper-towel dispensers was made during the summer of 2011; these units use recycled paper and provide an 18-inch perforated towel just by pulling the sheet. Waste has been dramatically reduced in the test schools the past year (2010-11). Toilet tissue dispensers were also replaced utilizing large rolls that are equivalent to four standard rolls; this is a savings in man power to refill these units and also an increase in customer service.

Continuing education is provided to all building managers monthly by the facilities department. Vendors or equipment manufacturers are invited in to educate on new products or to provide additional training on existing equipment. All staff is provided refreshers on existing cleaning methods/equipment throughout the year by building managers, crew leaders and the district custodial trainer. This training is done in a variety of methods; to reduce paper use some items are on blackboard and each custodian logs on to the computer and tests in that manner. Custodians are encouraged to research and share findings with the facilities office; products, methods, equipment are constantly changing and we must have as many eyes and ears watching and learning so we can make the best informed choices possible.

To ensure quality work, inspections are performed at least monthly at all locations by building managers, crew leaders and facilities administrators. District standard calls for all employees to receive at least an 85 percent score on these inspections.

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