Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Record Update first

University cleaning to go green

It may be a little late for spring-cleaning, but Plant Building and Grounds Services is implementing a new, “green” cleaning program throughout campus.

Called OS1 (Operating System 1), the system cleans “for health, not appearance.”

“If you clean for health, then it still looks clean, but with added benefits,” notes Kristin Miller, business administrator for Plant Building and Grounds Services. 
Rather than cleaning solely for aesthetic purposes, OS1 uses an environmentally friendly, deep-cleaning method that targets such things as bacteria that still may be present, but not visible, after a traditional cleaning.

For example, instead of using the standard single bucket when mopping, the
OS1 system utilizes a dual-bucket setup, keeping clean water and dirty water separate. This eliminates the “re-pollution” of dirty water and is just one of many ways the new system cleans for health purposes.

The process uses only four chemicals, three of which are green products. It also employs energy-efficient equipment, such as small backpack vacuums, which increase worker productivity in addition to saving energy and improving air quality.

OS1 boasts an average savings of 20 percent to 30 percent compared with the previous cleaning method, and can be expected to pay for the costs of implementation within 18-24 months, Miller says.

This money-saving mechanism does not mean there will be staff reductions, Miller says. “We are just doing more with the money we have.”

“We didn’t choose this program because it’s green,” Miller says. “That’s just an added benefit to the cost-saving, systematic-cleaning approach.”

Developed by ManageMen Inc., the system aims for consistent cleanliness throughout campus. Rather than relying on zone cleaning, the new program creates custodial specialists.

Whereas in the current cleaning method custodians are responsible for an entire zone, such as a specific floor in a building, under the OS1 method they focus on specialized cleaning. Custodians are trained to act as a team, but each also has his or her own specific type of cleaning to complete.

One custodian would be responsible for all the restrooms in a building, for example. In the typical custodial crew there would be a light, restroom and vacuum specialist, each in charge of a specific area of expertise.

At U-M, all custodians are going through an “OS1 boot camp” to prepare for the environmental program’s full implementation. The camp teaches the custodians “teamwork, accountability and responsibility,” Miller says.

The program that began as a pilot in the Dana Building on May 18 eventually will spread throughout the campus. The next phase will begin in August when C.C. Little, Dennison, and the Pharmaceutical Building are added into the OS1 program. In three years, every building on the Ann Arbor campus, including those on North Campus and the recreational buildings, will be cleaned under the OS1 system.

Although the Dana OS1 pilot program has only been under way for a more than a month, it is already receiving rave reviews. “There are already people in the building who don’t want to go back to the old way of cleaning,” Miller says.