Green school cleaning services are a critical component of green school programs and initiatives.
Green Cleaning Programs for Green School Initiatives
According to the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), green school initiatives should consist of five Core Practices:
- Curriculum that Advances Environmental Literacy and Sustainability
- Stewardship and Service Learning
- Sustainable Facilities Design and Management
- Health and Well Being
- Strong Partnerships and Networks
A well defined green cleaning program will contribute positively to each of these.
Advancing Environmental Literacy and Sustainability
While green janitorial training manuals may not be on par with a traditional school curriculum, a successful vendor will have compiled years of data and research that can assist educators with framing meaningful discussions with students about the chemicals we use each day, and how their use and disposal affect the environment around them.
Additionally, a wealth of literature and knowledge can be made available to assist instructors with educating students as to the nature of the germs and bacteria that we share our environment with, and why it is important to maintain a healthy balance between cleanliness and probiotic bacteria.
One of the key lessons that can be acquired through combined education efforts is the importance of washing our hands, the difference between hand sanitizer and soap, the best type of soap to use, and why certain chemicals in liquid soap could be dangerous to ourselves and the environment.
Stewardship and Learning Services
The GSNN listed three core components within the Stewardship Practice that a green cleaning program can facilitate:
- Stewardship projects allow the student to take responsibility for their own school ground.
- Place-based projects and practices that include, but are not limited to, school farms, forests, and gardens, and;
- [sic]...[T]he opportunity to participate in land restoration projects, such as native eco-system or brownfields remediation.
One of the easiest ways to reduce operational costs across the board is to require students to participate in classroom and playground cleanup duties.
Centralizing waste management in accordance with Zero Waste Initiatives allows the entire school to participate in a recycling program that will further reduce costs and provide needed mulch, via cafeteria food waste, to assist with local land restoration and farming efforts.
The key to a successful Zero Waste Initiative and recycling plan is engagement.
To achieve that:
- Make it Simple and Convenient - Studies have repeatedly shown that given the chance, people will make the right decision. Placing the appropriate type of recycling bin in designated and easily accessible areas will encourage participation and eliminate friction.
- Incentivize Positive Behavior - Recyclebank has a gamification program that rewards individuals, groups, and schools for participating in recycling programs. As a bonus, schools can apply for project funding, similar to Kickstarter, via their Green Schools program.
- Green Cleaning Services and Zero Waste Initiatives
- Gamifying Cleaning Services for a Healthier Office
Sustainable Facilities Design and Management
Sustainable facilities management is where a highly-skilled green cleaning vendor's services will be most applicable.
One of the primary reasons the adoption of green programs fails is perceived cost--this is usually due to a lack of understanding in what is a multi-faceted discipline.
To eliminate unnecessary financial expenditure, it is advised your school consult early on with a local and knowledgeable vendor capable of providing:
- Purchasing assistance, and inventory and chemical management.
- Recycling program facilitation and management.
- Staff training and augmentation.
- Action plan consulting.
Health and Well Being
Poor indoor air quality has been shown to reduce cognitive function and performance in building occupants, with worst-case scenarios resulting in Sick Building Syndrome.
It has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity in addition to causing visitors to express dissatisfaction. The size of the effect on most aspects of office work performance appears to be as high as 6-9%, the higher value being obtained in field validation studies. It is usually more energy-efficient to eliminate sources of pollution than to increase outdoor air supply rates.
As green cleaning chemicals are biodegradable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly, they do not emit VOC's into the air, making green programs the socially, economically, and ecologically responsible decision.
Strong Partnerships and Networks
The most valuable and cost-effective type of partnership for a school adopting a green program will be from a vendor who can facilitate all of the school's needs under one dynamically allocated service that recognizes that the school's needs will change significantly throughout the year, typically in the form of shorter term contracts (month-to-month as opposed to yearly), as well as flexible terms (charging less in the Summer or off-months than in-session months).
There are several qualities we advise you consider when seeking services from a central green janitorial services vendor, which we cover in some depth.
Due to economic, social, and ecological pressures, schools will soon have little choice but to fully move into some variation of a green initiative--the consensus being that now is vastly superior time to do it than later.
Green school initiatives take ardent strides towards teaching children about their relationship with their environment, as well as their personal responsibility towards it, themselves, and those they share this world with.
Partnering with an experienced and flexible vendor can help ensure the timely adoption and successful implementation of your school's green initiatives.
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