Cape Elizabeth School Department on Using the HGSC Standard to Improve Local Facilities

David Bagdasarian
Facilities Director
Cape Elizabeth School Department
320 Ocean House Road Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Tell us about your school district. 

Cape Elizabeth School Department is a top-rated public school in the coastal town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  The K-12 school system encompasses roughly 400,000 square feet and has an annual enrollment of around 1,500 students. 

What was your path to a career in school facilities management? 

I worked as a regional operations manager for a large company for many years before I moved to Maine. Maine has a smaller job market, so I focused my search on jobs with multi-site operations, which is what facilities management often entails. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I live and work in the same town. So with that, I take great pride in helping the community by ensuring our buildings are well maintained. 

What do you find most challenging?   

Unfortunately, the school buildings are old, which makes preventive maintenance difficult, as most systems have passed their useful lifespan. Things fail all of the time, and it is hard to predict what will be next. 

Why is improving sustainability and air quality in Cape Elizabeth facilities important to you?   

For me, it’s all about the children! I want these buildings to be clean, safe, and healthy so these kids can learn and excel. 

What motivated you to join the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program?   

I was drawn to the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program because it’s cutting edge. It represents what the standard will be someday, but I need the guidance HGSC provides to implement it now. 

Were you surprised by your score on the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges self-assessment?   

I kept getting marked low for not having written SOP’s which I knew was an area I am weak in, but the fact it kept showing up made me realize I need to get these things written down before my people retire. I count too much on institutional knowledge. 

How are you and your team using Healthy Green Schools & Colleges to identify or address areas of opportunity in your facilities?   

Going through the assessment has made us all stop and think about our process. Many great discussions have already come from it. 

Are colleagues or administrators outside of your department aware of or interested in your school’s participation in the program?

 Yes, but they don’t fully understand the program and its benefits yet. I plan to improve my weak areas before I make a significant presentation on everything.

What accomplishment are you most proud of from a health or sustainability standpoint?   

Switching to all green chemicals was a big achievement. This one change has made an enormous impact on the environment, my staff, and other building occupants. We now use Green Seal-certified products for the yearly stripping and waxing of our VCT tiles, which is a long process, and everyone feels better knowing that these products are safer.  

What’s next for Cape Elizabeth?  

I’m currently focused on the high school, but I plan to expand to the other school buildings and then to town buildings.