GCA Silver Award K-12/School Districts

Portland Public Schools, Portland, Oregon

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Number of students: 47,288

Square footage maintained: 8,705,650

Number of custodians: 253 full-time, 60 part-time

Annual cleaning budget: $950,000 (cleaning supplies); $14,746,173.00 (salaries and benefits); $1,809,864 (supplies and materials)

Green cleaning team members: Thomas L. Adams, Director of Facilities Operations; Stetson James, Daniel Lemay, Antonye Harris, Bryon Booze, Tom Pagh; Facilities Operations Managers; Coastwide Laboratories, Janitorial Product Distributor

In 2001, the district switched to all green cleaning supplies and a strict integrated pest management program in response to the Environmentally Sustainable Business Practices Board Policy 3.30.082. It had discontinued the use of all products containing butyl and bleach, but bleach continues to be used in kitchens.

In 2006, the district chose a product supplier after it received the EPA Green Seal Certification for its products.

The district is revising its cleaning practices to the Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools system. It has been successfully used for a decade in more than 100 schools in the Western United States, has been introduced to school districts in the Midwest and Southeast United States, and is available nationally. The district initiated the pilot program at Lane Middle School in October, and anticipates having all 85 schools using this method by the end of next year.

Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools raises the average productivity of school custodians from 22,000 to 27,000 square feet (or more) per eight-hour shift, with less exertion by workers, lower cost to the school district and healthier outcomes for students and staff. It applies integrated cleaning and measurement (ICM) principles to determine, track and continue improvements and is compatible with the International Standardization Organization (ISO) 9001, the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) and other quality-management programs.

When performing Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools, once custodians start vacuuming, they vacuum every classroom. They don't dust just one room, then put away the dusting equipment, then vacuum the room, then put the vacuum away and so on in the old style. This works the same way for sanitizing and dusting. The philosophy of Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools is to bring the tool to the job, not the job to the tool.

Based on time and motion studies involving different tools and processes in the industry, Process Cleaning is built on five equipment and technology cornerstones:

1. Backpack vacuums with multi-stage filtration.

2. Spray-and-vacuum systems that clean bathrooms at 1 minute per fixture.

3. Microfiber, which cleans glass and other surfaces better and 80 percent faster than cotton using less product.

4. Chemical reduction through the use of microfiber, chemical dispensing systems and cleaning technology that reduces the use of chemicals while meeting all federal, state and local requirements.

5. Measurement of outcomes using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and other devices to show reduction in organic soil, microbes and other environmental contaminants.

The district conducts an annual custodial survey of all 85 schools to provide feedback on how it is delivering high-quality service. It is in the middle of a $4 million energy savings performance contract dealing mostly with HVAC and control upgrades to raise air quality in classrooms. The district has upgraded or replaced all steam traps and replaced all toilets with dual-flush units for massive water savings. It has spent the summer using a $7.5 million contract replacing 93 heavy oil-fired boiler burners with new natural gas-fired units, which will free up and additional eight hours per week for custodial green cleaning efforts at 47 schools. Coupled with Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools, the district expects a large reduction in student absenteeism for health reasons.

The district performs annual three-day custodial training with classes taught by leading green cleaning product and equipment manufacturers. This is complete hands-on training and continues through the year for all new hires.

Best practices include:

-Three Rs hierarchy: Understand and promote the importance of reducing first, then reusing, then recycling. All three are important, but too often people focus on recycling things that they could have avoided using in the first place or could use again for something else.

-Low-hanging fruit: Start small with goals and projects that are easy to achieve. Focus on turning off lights and computers, making signs for recycling and energy use, and changing simple behavior before tackling bigger projects. Doing this will help schools gain traction and momentum with their efforts.

-Behavior first, technology second: Remember that in order for projects to be successful and sustainable, the proper behavior must be there. For example, before installing solar panels on a roof, educate staff and students to conserve energy.

-Normalize good behavior: New studies are showing that when desirable behavior is acknowledged, modeled and promoted, it becomes normalized. Empower people to become part of a thoughtful, healthy community instead of using scare tactics and daunting statistics. Try to focus on positive outcomes that will happen when people work together.

In September, The National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools USA program presented Mary Rieke Elementary School the Green Flag Award. Rieke is the first Oregon school to receive this honor.

To earn this honor, Rieke students, faculty and volunteers developed and implemented three Eco-Action Plans concerning energy usage, biodiversity education, and reduction of consumption and waste.

The Rieke Student Council, EcoThink Club and adult Green Team conducted and reported audits of lunch waste, selectively delamped the school building to save energy, and participated in an all-school planting to create the Wilson/Rieke Arboretum. This effort has lead to financial savings for the school and increased environmental awareness among the school community.

Green Team Projects include:

-Ready to Ride?: Posters contain information on the benefits of riding bikes, and maps of showers, locker rooms and bike racks.

-Trash Can reduction: Some departments have come a long way in reducing the number of trash cans in their space. This is an easy change that has multiple benefits. By centralizing department trash collection (rather than having trash cans in each employee's space) the custodian's job is much easier, and schools can help keep thousands of plastic bags out of our landfills.

-Paper Reduction: All employees are encouraged to conserve paper by scanning and e-mailing documents instead of making photocopies, as well as setting computers to print double-sided by default.

-Surplus office supplies: Employees can take from or add to the surplus.

-Recycling Centers: To update and expand the district's recycling program, the Green Team established recycling stations at strategic locations around the building. They are designed to be easily accessible, clearly labeled and visible.

-Water Bottle Elimination: Plastic water bottles are expensive, require energy to produce and transport, and take resources to recycle. At the urging of the Green Team, the Portland School Board is taking the lead in reducing the use of plastic water bottles in the district. Board members now use reusable glasses filled at a water cooler in place of water bottles at school board meetings. The Dixon Diner can provide a tray of glasses and water for meetings for just $2 per tray.

-Reused PONY Envelopes: Schools and departments may now order used PONY envelopes from the warehouse. The ordering process is identical to that of new envelopes, except that the used envelopes come at no cost. Each department can also close the loop by collecting excess used envelopes, boxing them and sending them to the warehouse.