Monday, April 14, 2014

Going Green in the Classroom

Did you know…?
» 90% of our time is spent indoors.
» Asthma in the U.S. accounts for 28 million missed work and school days annually.
» Allergies account for 3.5 million lost workdays annually.
» Indoor Air Quality is one of the TOP 5 environmental risks to public health.
Isn’t it time your students, teachers, and staff deserve a healthier learning environment?

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Asthma is the most common serious chronic disease of childhood and accounts for one-third of all pediatric emergency room visits, more than 200,000 hospitalizations (ranking third among children under 15 and 14.7 million missed school days annually. Schools across the globe have begun cracking down on their cleaning programs as a result of the negative health effects that go along with cleaning improperly and using harsh chemicals. AFS Janitorial has made great strides to bring schools a green cleaning program that is sustainable and healthier for its occupants.

Innovative equipment used to clean with has proper gauges for dispensing green cleaning products, and some do not require any product at all. Take the BOOST Machine for example, an auto scrubber that has the ability to strip floors by just adding water! By eliminating the use of chemical in this practice, we are able to keep the indoor air quality in a healthier state, and your students aren't breathing in harsh airborne particles.

A Color-coded microfiber system helps reduce cross-contamination by differentiating area of use. AFS Janitorial’s staff is trained to use yellow microfiber in restrooms, green for general cleaning/multi-surface and blue for glass products. These colored microfiber mops and cloths corresponds with the colors of buckets, chemicals, job cards and safety data sheets (MSDS) specified for the particular tasks and areas. Color-coding simplifies training, eliminates confusion and educates workers on what to use where. All the while, it is eliminating cross-contamination and reducing the spread of bacteria.

HEPA filtered vacuums are used to capture dust and allergens; traditional vacuums are not able to do this. HEPA Filtration traps 99.7% of dirt at 0.3 microns for improved indoor air quality. Particles that are 0.3 micron in size are the most difficult particles to trap and contain within a filter. Also, 0.3 micron particle, when inhaled, passes easily into the body's respiratory system so the body's natural defense system is more vulnerable to these small particles. This is why ONLY HEPA filters are recommended by Allergists and Doctors.

Microfibers flat mops clean floors 45% better than traditional string mops and are durable for up to 1,000 launderings. AFS Janitorial uses The Rubbermaid HYGEN™ microfiber cleaning system which provides innovative solutions designed for proven superior performance in maintaining healthy, safe environments. Built-in agitators remove at least 25% more dirt from mops and an integrated filter improves productivity and reduces chemical/water waste.

Make health and safety a priority by following these steps:

1.       PLAN your Green Cleaning Program
2.       SELECT certified Green Cleaning Products
3.       INTRODUCE Green Equipment & Supplies
4.       ADOPT Green Cleaning Procedures
5.       SHARE the Responsibility

Maximize your investment and IAQ by allowing AFS Janitorial to green your school! Click here for more information on how to develop an effective IAQ program for your school. PROMOTE HEALTH. PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT.

Read about how Butler University saved on time, money, and resources by utilizing double-sided microfiber mops.

Green Cleaning Products: Myths vs Facts!

Myth : Green Cleaning products aren't as effective as traditional cleaning products.
»Fact: Although some have questioned whether or not green products really work, the truth is that effectiveness is one of the requirements of third party certification (such as EcoLogo and Green Seal.) Also, green cleaners have become a very significant product line for many manufacturers, and their effectiveness is vital to the market share of the companies that produce them.

Myth : Green products have not been around for very long and therefore have not been tested enough.
»Fact: Many Green Cleaning products have been tested and marketed for over two decades. Also, some certification organizations (such as Green Seal) have been certifying green products for over 20 years. Certification helps assure that green products meet a minimum set of standards and are thoroughly tested.

Myth : Not many cleaning manufacturers make green products.
»Fact: Almost all cleaning-product manufacturers have highly competitive green product lines.

Myth : Green products cost more.
»Fact: At one point, companies who sold green products charged more for them. But in today's competitive market, Green Cleaning products typically cost no more than their conventional counterparts. And when the cost of health issues from traditional chemicals is factored into the equation, green products actually save money for organizations that use them. Furthermore, with sustainable cleaning practices (such as reducing the number of cleaning products used in a facility,) cleaning costs are reduced even more.

Myth : Organizations that start a Green Cleaning program need to immediately throw out all their current chemicals and replace them with green cleaners.
»Fact: Many organizations implement a smooth transition from their current products to green ones, replacing the highest-toxicity chemicals first and then gradually switching out the others.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting: Implementing a Green Cleaning Program

“Cleaning green is comprised of an environmentally responsible application of methods and systems. It is achieved by integrating cleaning products, policies, operational procedures, methods or systems intended to minimize harmful environmental impact and maximize sustainability of the built environment.” In order to successfully carryout a green cleaning program, one must assess the sustainability measures of the following components: 1) Procedures, 2) Equipment, 3) Chemicals, 4) Consumables, and 5) Training. It is imperative that your commercial cleaning company have all functioning parts in conjunction with green standards. Below states the requirements that must be adhered to in order to successfully carry out and maintain a green cleaning program.

1)       Procedures
It’s not only what you clean with, but very important as to how you clean. In order to maximize the performance of your program, your cleaning procedures must be defined in detail with Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Develop and implement a floor cleaning and maintenance plan, consistent with manufacturers’ recommendations, to extend the life and appearance of flooring through routine, periodic, and restorative cleaning operations.
  • Determine schedules of routine cleaning operations, activities performed periodically, equipment operation and maintenance, cleaning inspections, and accident preparedness plans.
  • Schedule cleaning operations to ensure the minimum frequency required to clean and maintain the area to a level that adequately protects human health and the environment.
  • Include a review of cleaning operations at least twice per year to adjust the program as needed in response to the changing needs of the building/complex and its occupants.

Below are all factors that must be addressed in writing your Standard Operating Procedures. AFS Janitorial can assist you with this when you are ready to implement a green cleaning program.

-Identify people with special needs                 -Entryways
-Hard Floor Care                                            -Carpet Care
-Dust Mopping                                                -Dusting
-Restrooms                                                    -Food Areas
-Odor Control                                                -Spills
-Trash Removal                                              -Indoor Plants
-Recycling                                                      -Maintaining HVAC Systems
-Garage Maintenance                                       -Roof Maintenance
-Pest Management                                           -Fabric Cleaning
-Basements                                                     -Stairwells and Elevators
-Closets                                                          -Building Exterior

2)       Equipment
Ergonomic, sustainable equipment that does not have a negative effect on a facility’s IAQ is required in a green cleaning program. Benefit – more effective use; longer life; cleaner indoor air. Below displays a list of equipment type, along with requirements and examples of each.

Equipment Type
Vacuum Cleaners
HEPA Filtration, meet CRI standards, operates at sound level less than 70 dBA
Powered Floor Machines
Operates at sound level less than 70 dBA, guards and filters, controls for dispensing to optimize chemical use
Carpet Extraction
Low emission engine, building must be unoccupied in order to use
Powered Scrubbers
Control method for dispensing chemicals

A logbook should be kept for all powered equipment to document purchase dates, maintenance history and equipment information sheets. To view more options of equipment that meets green standards click here.

3)       Chemicals
Cleaning products play a major role in the health of your building’s IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). Chemical Management Systems aim to reduce waste and allow for proper dilution control measures. Benefit: more cost effective; safer for the user; less VOCs; less material in landfills. Chemicals that meet the standards set by Green Seal or DfE contain fewer toxins and lower VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). View acceptable chemicals here.

4)       Consumable Products
The three basic issues of concern for paper are total recovered material (recycled content), post-consumer recycled content, and the bleaching process. Environmentally preferable (check for green certification or recognition) paper products should meet the following standards for each of the following product categories:
  • Restroom tissue—100% recovered materials and 20% post-consumer content.
  • Toilet seat covers—100% recovered materials and 40% post-consumer content.
  • Paper towels and general-purpose industrial wipes—100% recovered materials and 40% post-consumer content.
Using coreless paper products also reduces waste. Considering using a "touch free" dispenser if possible, as it reduces potential cross-contamination of bacteria and other potentially harmful pathogens.

5)       Training
Continuous one-on-one training ensures the success of a green cleaning program. Below are ongoing programs that AFS Janitorial staff receives.
  • Green Cleaning 101
  • Cleaning Basics
  • Equipment Training
  • Restroom Care
  • Floor Care
  • Safety (MSDS & Labels)
  • How to use Microfiber Chemical Management Systems
  • Green Products
  • Proper Use of Disinfectants
  • Personal Protective Equipment
The greenest thing you can do is to clean properly. Therefore, by constructing a cleaning program that incorporates process, equipment, and chemical, you end up with a program that achieves the true objectives of green cleaning. A study reported by the American Hospital Association showed that for all of the approximately 134,000,000 workers in the United States, asthma alone cost US employers 125,209,000 lost work days at a cost of just over $23 billion dollars.