March 27, 2009

Sustainability event focuses on green cleaning

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- You can clean in an environmentally friendly and yet cost-effective way. That’s the message of the Schools of Illinois Public Cooperative as it meets at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Wednesday, April 1.

About 150 administrators, or their designees, from school districts for K-12 students along with community college and university representatives will attend the Sustainable Facility Care Leadership Conference, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Student Health Center.

Illinois followed New York in becoming the second state in the country to mandate green cleaning at elementary and secondary schools with the May 2008 passage of the Illinois Schools Green Cleaning Act.

The conference brings SIPC members together to share ideas, explore new technologies to make schools more environmentally friendly and see what’s available to help them be good stewards of both the environment and taxpayer funds, said Wallace Burman, SIUC’s director of purchasing. The goal is maximizing cleanliness and elimination of germs while promoting health, reducing exposure to hazardous cleaning chemicals, enhancing the lifespan of educational facilities, reducing consumption of natural resources and preserving the environment.

“We’re talking about the positive impacts of cooperative procurement on sustainable building needs, which extends beyond bidding practices to partnerships with the private sector to become as environmentally friendly as possible while conserving our budgets as much as possible,” Burman said.

That’s not only possible, it’s happening now at the University, Burman said. For instance, he said by purchasing one environmentally friendly and effective cleaning product and diluting it to various strengths -- depending on whether it is used to clean faucets, floors or toilets -- SIUC has saved a considerable amount of money. Less storage room is needed, more uses are covered, and through cooperative buying with other educational facilities, better pricing is available.

Chancellor Samuel Goldman will speak at the conference, and Jim Sheffer, director of sustainable building care for AmSan Corp., will deliver the keynote speech. Kevin Settle, superintendent of Mt. Vernon School District 80 and chairman of SIPC, will moderate an interactive panel discussion. Panelists will include: Burman; Greg Leivers, director of maintenance and transportation for Bunker Hill School District 8; Brian Day, recycling program specialist for Rubbermaid Commercial Products; Todd Hunsucker, area vice president for Johnson Diversey; and Brett Ivers, with the Illinois Zero Waste Schools Grant Program from the Bureau of Energy and Recycling.

A cooperative effort among SIUC, SIPC, the Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative, the Illinois Community College System and corporate partner AmSan led to creation of standards for certification through the School Cleaning Redesigned for the Environment (SCORE) and an explanation is included in the program’s agenda.

Settle, one of the SIPC’s original organizers, also will present awards to SIPC members. The afternoon features a networking and environmental innovation showcase, wrapping up at 2 p.m. One participant will win for their school of choice an SIPC grant -- a free recycling startup kit valued at more than $2,500. In addition to sharing ideas and expertise, participants will view product demonstrations and tour the Student Health Center, where they’ll see sustainability as reality.