ICS Magazine

State to set green cleaning standards for schools

August 3, 2008

KANSAS CITY (Sun Tribune) – Aug. 1, 2008 -- As a new Missouri law calls for school districts to clean up their act with cleaning supplies, local education officials are already ahead of the game.

A bill to establish “green” cleaning rules for schools was signed recently by Gov. Matt Blunt. Administrators with North Kansas City Schools and Park Hill School District point out that their districts started making that switch to earth-friendly cleaning supplies and methods months before the law was signed.

“It’s been a general trend amongst our vendors and our school district anyway,” said Paul Kelly, chief financial officer for Park Hill School District.

Kelly’s sentiment was echoed by Bob Maggio, operations and maintenance director for North Kansas City Schools. The new law, though, was a surprise for district officials, Maggio said.

“I think the general concept of doing green cleaning is a great idea,” he said. “We’ve been paying attention to the green cleaning piece, but this was not on our radar screens.”

Green cleaning supplies most often refer to products that have effective substitutes for chemicals that can harm the environment, Maggio said.

North Kansas City Schools is trying to get a “green” certification for its newest building - Staley High School - from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization. As part of that process, the district has pledged to avoid cleaning products with prohibited chemicals like ammonia and hydrochloric acid and heavy metals like lead and mercury, Maggio said.

Karl Klein is a public relations representative for Buckeye International, one of the main suppliers for Staley High School’s green cleaning products. Companies, schools and governments around the nation are responding to client demands by cleaning in an earth-friendly way, Klein said.

“The demand has been going up for maybe a couple of years,” he said. “But a lot of these groups have been going to green cleaning supplies before they were told to do it.”

With the passage of Senate Bill 1181, Missouri became just the third state in the nation move towards a green cleaning requirement for all school districts, Klein said. The law establishes a panel of industry, governmental and non-governmental representatives who will create guidelines and specifications for earth-friendly cleaning programs. The new rules are expected to be completed by the spring of 2009 and will be enforced by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We’ve got to convene with some other interested organizations to talk about what these rules will look like,” said Jim Morris, DESE spokesperson.

School officials in Missouri will be keeping a close eye on the new green cleaning panel, Kelly said.

“We’re interested to see how that will be phased in,” Kelly said. “If we can be green and cost efficient, then we should do that.”