An Insider’s Tactical Advice on Making the Case for Green Cleaning

Healthy Schools Campaign is proud to work with our corporate partners to advance green cleaning in schools. Our corporate partners have great expertise on green cleaning and some of them bring additional knowledge and expertise working with schools. We are excited to leverage this knowledge and expertise to share with the field in a new blog series.

Bob Wellman, Director of Educational Sales with National Chemical Laboratories, is one such expert and a true champion for children’s health. Wellman travels to school districts across the country to implement green cleaning systems, complete with training programs. He is also a passionate advocate for the custodian—and will educate anyone who will listen just how important it is to recognize custodians in order to push cleaning for health to the next level.

Wellman recently offered some useful insight on how school facility directors can overcome common challenges with staff and school hierarchy to better advocate for their green cleaning programs. Below are some of Wellman’s surprisingly simple strategic tips for making the case for green cleaning.

Providing Choices

We hear facility directors talk about “resistance to change” and “push back” they receive from their teams as they attempt to introduce new, greener and healthier products or equipment all the time. Wellman believes one of the easiest ways to instantly overcome resistance is to draw personnel into the process by giving them choice. Wellman encourages managers to think ahead when it comes to introducing new approaches to team members.

Wellman suggests giving personnel three or four choices that have already been approved of, rather than introducing one new option right off the bat. “Flat microfiber mops are one of the biggest resistance curves in the industry right now,” says Wellman. “Give your team members four versions of microfiber mops and ask them which one they like better. You’ve created buy-in and a sense of ownership simply by providing choice.”

Pilot Program Selection

Any significant green cleaning changes in a large school district will need to happen in a pilot program first. Wellman has experience with this, since his programs also start at the pilot level in one or two schools within a district. Many facility directors have trouble getting an audience with administration in charge of buildings, let alone getting them agree to be “guinea pigs.” Wellman has a simple solution for getting principals excited about pilot programs, and it’s just a matter of semantics. He tells the principal of the building he wants to use for the pilot: “You have been selected to help your district enter into the healthy cleaning environment.”

“Before they’ve gotten into the car, they’ve called all the other district principals, ‘Guess what they chose me for?’” says Wellman. “So I warn facility directors that after the first call, they’ll be getting calls from all their other principals saying that they want a pilot program, too.”

Attendance Metrics Matter

Schools are often funded based on attendance. Wellman is well aware of this fact and wants more school facility directors to make the case for green cleaning based on attendance metrics. “Attendance rates and funding are simple formulas to look at,” advises Wellman. He recommends doing research into the amount of money schools get when students are in school and coupling this with research into how green cleaning affects attendance—and then bringing that research to administration to make the case for better program funding or specific investments. We developed a chronic absenteeism toolkit that will help you to investigate the relationship between asthma, asthmagens and absenteeism further.

We look forward to bringing you more helpful advice from our sponsors and other leading green cleaning experts and advocates in the new year. Attending our Green Clean Schools events will give you a live audience with many of these representatives, so sign up for our newsletter to be the first to learn of our 2017 events.