Simple green program choices can make huge impact on health, the environment and budgets, and one school district in Utah is proving just that. The four-year-old green cleaning program at Davis School District in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah, has successfully reduced the use of chemicals, reinvested tens of thousands of dollars a year, reduced waste by more than 20 percent and almost eliminated job turnover within the department, too. The 2018 winner of the Best New Program – Silver Green Cleaning Award is making bold decisions to go green, supported by a revamped training program that engages and values cleaning staff, thorough assessment programs and a clear process for communicating with the entire school community.
Under the leadership of Shawna Cragun, Director of Custodial Services at Davis School District, the more-than 600 person staff at the school district has developed a green culture that drives all of their decisions, which is evident in their innovative programs and the environmental and health successes they are achieving. Cragun joined the Green Clean Schools Steering Committee after winning this award.
Just some of the changes the green cleaning department at Davis has adapted in the past four years include: an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy that has been ratified by the school board and reduced pesticides by more than 99 percent; a 95 percent decrease in the use of floor strippers and a change from the use of standard paper products to coreless, 50 percent post-consumer waste/65 percent recycled, Ecologo certified paper products.
Before 2014, pest management program at Davis meant simply pesticide application. That cost the district $10,000 per year. Since changing to an IPM program, Davis has been able to reinvest that $10,000 into monitors, logs and IPM tools. The paper switch also saved the district more than $14,000.
Currently, Davis has classroom recycling programs that focus on paper waste and cafeteria programs that have aluminum, plastic, and paper recycling and metal recycling in the Maintenance and Construction departments. The district is also in the beginning phases of
implementing organic recycling in all schools. Food waste will be taken to a local anaerobic digester and converted into usable energy and fertilizer. The first schools were online in August 2018 with plans for implementation at all 110 locations within five years. Currently, changes have reduced waste sent to the landfill by 23 percent and the introduction of organic recycling should reduce that by another 45 percent. “In five years, we expect to have reduced
waste to our landfills by 68 percent,” says Cragun.
To get buy-in for these changes, especially when such a dramatic reduction in the use of traditional chemicals like pesticides and floor strippers are concerned, training adjustments were critical. “We went from one training a year (approximately three hours) and 26 lessons for our general custodians a full professional development day, quarterly training classes, online
resources, monthly newsletters and an additional 2000 training hours to use as needed,” says Cragun. With these changes to training and engagement procedures, Davis went from a 16.88 percent vacant positions in 2014 to less than 1 percent today.
“The ‘greenest’ change we have made is working on our employee retention and morale,” says Cragun. “It is very difficult to have a great, consistent, green cleaning program without staff or when continually training inexperienced employees. We have worked very hard to make our employees value themselves, their impact on education and the important work that they do every day.”
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 Spring!
Applications for the next round of awards will be available in spring of 2019. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the application is posted. We look forward to learning about your green cleaning program!