Cleaning & Restoration Breaking News

The green in state government

July 22, 2008
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HELENA, MT (Independent Record) – July 22, 2008 -- The state government is going greener, and it wants citizens to follow.

From its purchase of cleaning products and paper supplies to its lawn care, the Department of Administration is changing its ways.

And this week, DOA and the Department of Environmental Quality are sponsoring a Capitol Complex Green Week to share what they're doing.

These efforts grew out of Gov. Brian Schweitzer's 20x10 Energy Initiative in November, when he challenged state agencies to cut their energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2010 to reduce their environmental impact.

"Governor Schweitzer has asked us to lead by example," said Doug Olson, DOA facilities manager. "We want to show citizens how the government has gone greener. We're doing workshops throughout the week to give the public ideas about what they can do as well."

The Capitol Complex cleaning contractor, Kleen King, now uses an environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning product, Olson said Monday, at a presentation on environmentally friendly chemicals.

This product replaces previous acid-and-solvent-based products.

The new cleaner is used for numerous jobs by adding water to change the product's concentration, said Dan Prebil, owner of Kleen King.

"We clean for health first and second for appearance," Prebil said. "That's where the industry has to go."

The new products sanitize, "but are more friendly to our staff and the environment."

The cleaning product comes in bulk containers that can be returned to the manufacturer for re-use, rather than thrown away, Prebil said.

And the cleaning tools themselves have changed, too.

Gone are the days of the 5-gallon bucket of water and a mop with a ringer.

Instead, staffers tote petite, lightweight floor mops equipped with microfiber mop heads and a 16-ounce canister of cleaner.

Two cups of cleaning liquid do the same job that would have taken 50 gallons of water previously, Prebil said.

Microfiber mop heads and cleaning cloths absorb more dirt and require less laundering than the previous cotton rags and mopheads, he said.

Floor scrubbing and carpet cleaning machines also have changed. Instead of using 25 to 30 gallons of water, they use eight to 10.

In addition to cleaning supplies, the state has changed janitorial contracts regarding paper products.

The contracts now require that paper towels contain 40- to 60-percent recycled content and 20 to 40 percent for toilet paper.

The products used must have a green seal - an official designation that it is environmentally responsible, Olson said.

The DOA's changes increase productivity, protect the environment, use fewer plastic bottles and re-use containers, Olson said.

And the cleaning products are non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-irritating and biodegradable, he said.

The cleaning industry has been changing its ways in recent years.

"I started with Kleen King 20 years ago," Prebil said. "We're seeing less environmental footprint and we're cutting water consumption by 70 percent."

The state has also taken other environmentally friendly steps.

About 30 waterless urinals have been installed in the Capitol complex, Olson said.

DOA is also installing new hand dryers to replace paper towels.

And the Capitol complex is going green outside.

"The days of using 2,4-D are over," said Olson. "All the things we use are nontoxic and biodegradable."

Other Green Week events include presentations on building energy audits, the DOA's weather station to monitor lawn moisture at the Capitol complex, a conference on responsible purchasing and a tour of a renovated "green" state building.

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