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Green Clean – UMKC housekeeping joins sustainability revolution

July 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Mission and Goals, Staff, Sustainability

Facilities Management Custodian, Sonia Chaviano

The nice “clean” smells are gone; but in their place is an environment that is not only clean but healthy. Welcome to 21st century housekeeping.

UMKC’s Campus Facilities Management (CFM) and members of the housekeeping staff, who gathered at Tent State on campus last year, sounded just as radical about environmental issues as the most dedicated student in attendance.

With a sustainability team in place and a willingness to embrace new ideas, CFM quietly has been lightening its carbon footprint. CFM tries to reuse instead of toss wherever possible.

Mowers have been modified so grass clippings become mulch for the lawns. As encouragement for clean commuters, employees have access to ride sharing connections and borrowed bicycles.

According to Corey Key, former head of Building Services and Grounds, the lack of a pleasant aroma is the only obstacle to the acceptance of unscented cleaning supplies by the housekeeping crews.

“Like most of us,” said Key, “they connect a floral or pleasant chemical aroma with cleanliness. My task is to convince them that if we don’t smell anything, the unpleasant odors are gone and the products are doing the job.”

Encouragement has come from many areas. At all levels of government, there are environmental directives about procurement, and businesses and schools have heard the message. An added benefit is that insurance companies are offering lower rates to customers using green products. They are safer and the risk of personal exposure and chemical hazards are greatly reduced.

As the market for sustainable products becomes more competitive, companies are developing PowerPoint presentations, videos and sophisticated brochures proclaiming their business practices as economically, socially and environmentally sound.

Velda Robbins

Velda Robins, Building Services interim manager, estimates that UMKC’s housekeeping staff has been looking for ways to go green for the last three years. New products were tried – high-traffic areas became test zones for various cleansers, polishes and mats made from recycled plastic.

Manufacturers kept making improvements and adding incentives, conducting seminars and proposing new concepts like team cleaning. Under Key’s leadership, said Robins, the crews began phasing out products for their greener alternatives.

“We have microfiber towels, which are not disposable and will stand up to repeated washings. Soon all the bathroom towel dispensers will be automatic. They need little maintenance and dispense towels one at a time. We have made ergonomic changes, too. Crews have lighter-weight equipment and tools that require less force to use,” said Robins.

Key and Robins agree that, despite some initial reluctance to give up the familiar, cleaning crews have been enthusiastic.

“The products do a great job of cleaning, shining and disinfecting,” said Robins. “You can’t argue with that.”

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • kayejohnston

    Weber,
    Thank you for your post your comments about the article on CFM use of green cleaning products. To answer your curiosity about our campus recycling program I would like to refer you to a couple of websites. Our UMKC Master Plan Website http://masterplan.umkc.edu/sustainability.asp
    that goes over all our sustainability efforts including recycling and also our old Recycling/Sustainability website http://www.umkc.edu/adminfinance/cfm/recycle/Overview.htm We are in the process of redesigning our website so please understand it is somewhat dated. It will, however, give you some history on what we have done and how our program works. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me at johnstonrk@umkc.edu or call 816-235-6402. I am the new full-time Sustainability Coordinator on campus and would be happy to assist you with any further questions or information. Thanks again!

  • ingersollw

    I would like to voice my appreciation for the efforts CFM has made toward protecting the environment by use of “green” products. I am also curious to know what recycling efforts are being made by CFM, since the trash collection process is a natural interface with the plastic bottles and paper that can be recycled in our UMKC recycling containers.
    Thanks, Weber