A Green Cleaning Program with an Entire Town Behind It
Congratulations to Wellesley Public Schools on winning the Grand Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities! The school district in Massachusetts serves about 5,000 students across 870,000 square feet of indoor space. By focusing on sustainability, strengthening partnerships and harnessing technology, the Facilities Management Department at Wellesley is truly showing how green cleaning can work for a school, a district and an entire community.
In 2012, the town of Wellesley formed the Facilities Management Department (FMD) with sustainability as a key tenet of the mission statement. While the school had been cleaning in green and sustainable ways for a long time, this really cemented the program and allowed them to think bigger, says Michael Andersen, Custodial Service Manager, Facilities Management Department, Town of Wellesley.
The town itself is a designated green community, so support for and commitment to cleaning the town’s schools in an environmentally friendly and healthier way is important. “This makes a lot of the things we try easy to integrate into our program,” says Andersen. “Everybody seems to love the results so far.”
The district uses sustainable third-party certified green products, including paper products, trash can liners, and cleaning products. They also recognize that having the right equipment is just as important. But the real key to the program, Andersen says, is the custodial staff.
The success of the green cleaning program at Wellesley also depends on buy-in from students and school staff for its team cleaning process. At the middle school and high school, students are asked to put up their chairs at the end of the day and pick up larger debris items on the floor. Staff limit their classrooms to one trash barrel, which is left by the door at the end of the day. These small contributions greatly increase the custodial efficiency and enhance our partnership with staff and students.
The district also transitioned to producing its disinfectant and sanitizer on-site in each school. This allows the district to focus on the sustainability tenet of its mission statement. By generating these products on-site, the district has vastly reduced their environmental footprint. There’s no more packaging waste from chemicals, and the product turns back into tap water when it reaches their sanitary sewer after use. “We started with a pilot system at one school to test the system, and we were pleased with the results,” says Andersen.
The district also uses a building automation system to track and manage temperature and air flow. The system was first installed in a new high school as it was being built, and then the district decided to expand the system to schools across the district. Four years later, each and every school had the system. The system is controlled from one designated computer at each school. “Someone can log on to a main computer and control everything,” says Andersen.
He admits that training staff on the new system was a challenge at first. “The more they use it, the more familiar they get with it,” says Andersen. “I think a lot of them found it more interesting. It was something that they wanted to do and take on because it was different than the normal action of the job.”
You can hear more about Wellesley’s award-winning program, specifically its team cleaning and on-site generation, on our Learn from the Leaders webinar on August. 6.
About the Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities
The Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities is the only award dedicated solely to recognizing schools and their facility leaders for the tireless work of promoting clean, healthy and sustainable school buildings. Presented by Healthy Schools Campaign, American School & University magazine and the Green Cleaning Network, it highlights schools with innovative, health-focused and environmentally minded cleaning programs. Judging criteria are based on our 5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools.
Applications Available this Fall!
Applications for the next round of awards will be available in the fall. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the application is posted. We look forward to learning about your green cleaning program!