April 21, 2010

Conference to focus on sustainable facility care

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Representatives from school districts, community colleges and Southern Illinois University Carbondale will gather on campus on Thursday, April 22, to discuss cleaning in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner.

“This conference will not only show the importance of being environmentally responsible, but it will show that doing so is affordable. During this time when education budgets have been severely tested, it is great to be able to announce price decreases,” said Wallace Burman, director of purchasing for SIUC.

Organizers anticipate about 150 administrators or their designees from K-12 school districts and institutions of higher learning will attend the Schools of Illinois Public Cooperative’s Sustainable Facility Care Leadership Conference beginning at 10 a.m. at the Student Health Center. Passage in May 2008 of the Illinois Schools Green Cleaning Act led schools to search for economical “green” solutions to their cleaning needs. This conference brings together SIPC members as they explore new technologies to make schools more environmentally friendly while still being good stewards of taxpayer funds, Burman said.

Essentially, the objective is to help educational facilities achieve maximum cleanliness and germ elimination while promoting good health, decreasing exposure to potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals, extending the lifespan of facilities, reducing the use of natural resources and preserving the environment. Cooperative procurement extending beyond bidding practices to partnerships with the private sector can positively impact sustainable building needs while conserving financial resources, Burman said.

For instance, he points out that SIUC uses one cleaning product in varying dilutions for numerous cleaning jobs -- from faucets and toilets to floors. The product is environmentally friendly, requires less storage space since it serves multiple purposes, and is a cost-effective purchase through cooperative buying.

Kevin Settle, superintendent of Mt. Vernon School District 80 and chairman of SIPC, will open the conference, introducing SIUC Chancellor Samuel Goldman who will offer opening remarks. Jim Scheffer, director of sustainable building care for AmSan, will present the keynote address. Tim Buss, vice chairperson of SIPC and superintendent of Wabash School District 348, will moderate an interactive panel discussion.

A cooperative endeavor including SIUC, SIPC, the Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative, the Illinois Community College System and corporate partner AmSan led to establishment of standards for certification through School Cleaning Redesigned for the Environment (SCORE). Thursday’s presentation will include an explanation of how this came about.

Those attending will also enjoy a networking and environmental innovation showcase during the afternoon.