Going Green When We Clean

When an institution like the University of Rochester thinks about keeping its facilities clean, the health of patients, students, faculty, staff and others comes to mind first and foremost. However, these days UR is considering a significant and long lasting concern of cleaning: the preservation of the environment. That’s why the University puts careful consideration into buying and using cleaning products which will help minimize the impact on our environment. Today we’ll take a look at green cleaning practices being used at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG), the Medical Center, and  River Campus. 

At the Memorial Art Gallery, Debbie Smith, Manager of Facilities, explains that to eliminate almost all harmful chemicals that would otherwise be used, they’ve made the switch to cleaning with a device called the ionator EXP™. They’ve purchased two of these ionators, which apply a slight electrical charge to tap water to kill bacteria and remove dirt and other grime from surfaces. These devices will save thousands of dollars over their lifetime and protect us and the environment from cleaning products that may have been used in their place. (Find out more about the the ionator EXP™)Ionator

Environmental Services at the URMC has also been engaged in making green cleaning efforts.  Despite the unique challenge of keeping a fully functioning medical school clean and sanitary, Environmental Services Operations Manager, Chris Licata, has found ways to ensure the safety of staff, students, and visitors while still significantly reducing the environmental impact of his department’s work.

Like the MAG, the School of Medicine and Dentistry has implemented the cutting edge technology of the ionator EXP™.  Additionally, the medical school is cleaned by Green Seal Certified multipurpose cleaners, which are less toxic than other cleaners and reduce the need for many single-purpose specialty cleaners. Equally important, though, is the way in which this cleaner is applied.  Environmental Services has made the switch to microfiber mops and wipes (which can be used and laundered and sanitized hundreds of times), eliminating tons of waste from cotton mops and single-use paper wipes.

At the University’s River Campus, Assistant Director of Facilities Operations, Barry McHugh, explains that green cleaning is nothing new; five years ago green cleaning product purchases represented 25% of the total River Campus cleaning purchases. With an increase every year since, now approximately 95% of the River Campus cleaning products are green.

However, the job is not complete just by purchasing green cleaning products. All staff and supervisors on the River Campus go through special training to teach them that with cleaning, using less really is enough. In the past, cleaning staff may have not been trained to know exactly how much cleaner had to be used for a particular job so each staff member used their own estimate and typically this resulted in a lot of waste cleaning product. Now with the training and a special device call a J-fill that distributes very small predetermined amounts of cleaning material for each job, significantly fewer products (and the money used to pay for it) are wasted.

Through smart purchasing and smart teaching, all across the UR cleaning is getting greener everyday.

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