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Custodians debut green building care program at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva

By Amanda GarrisIMG_9614-janitor-chemical-mixer

Staff raiding the janitorial closet for supplies to clean up an after-hours spill will wonder where all the bottles are. The custodians Cornell’s New York Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva have adopted a new, environmentally friendly cleaning system different enough to warrant a formal introduction.

“The products were selected by the custodians for their excellent performance over a month of testing, and the system is both environmentally friendly and safer for human health,” said Juan Chavez, the building care manager for NYSAES greenhouses and grounds. “Because building users need access to these products for daily cleaning and disinfection of labs and greenhouses, we will be holding an orientation in each building on the Geneva campus.”

All of the cleaning products are manufactured by Diversey, Inc., and are certified to be free of toxins, irritants, and carcinogens. In addition, the formulations are biodegradable and low in phosphorus, so they won’t contribute to excessive nutrients and algal blooms in local waterways.

However, the most visible change is how the cleaners are accessed—gone are the shelves crowded with bottles of cleaners. Each custodial closet is now equipped with a single wall-mounted dispenser containing concentrates of floor, window, and bathroom cleaners and a degreaser. With the turn of a knob, the selected product is dispensed through a hose and nozzle, precisely diluted with tap water.

This dispensing system has benefits for the environment.

“For example, each bottle of Stride® concentrate holds the equivalent of ten 50-gallon drums of diluted cleaner, a dilution of  1:750,” said Larry Pfeiffer, a sales executive with Diversey. “This reduces the energy used and waste produced in manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and disposal.”

The other major benefit is to custodian’s health: Taking the chemist out of being a custodian.

“With this system, the custodians never handle and dilute concentrated cleaning chemicals,” said Chavez. “The spill-proof lids prevent any contact with the concentrates.”

According to Peter Paradise, CALS director of facilities, their goal goes beyond switching to healthier cleaning products.  It is the first step on the path to NYSAES certification by Green Seal, an independent, non-profit organization that promotes products and services which cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion.

The next step is transitioning to cleaning methods devised to improve indoor air quality and protect human health. Custodians will adopt Diversey’s Healthy High Performance Cleaning System, which will change how they maintain the Station buildings.

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