Ensuring Student Well-being through Sustainable Cleaning at Saint Clement School

Challenge 

Saint Clement School is a private Catholic institution in Chicago serving approximately 300 students from pre-school through eighth grade. As the COVID-19 outbreak intensified, Saint Clement began using higher volumes of cleaning and disinfecting solutions to ensure they were creating a safe and healthy environment for students. The school also deployed electrostatic sprayers to disinfect classrooms each evening, stretching its supply of cleaner and disinfectant to the limit.  

To meet new cleaning demands and take the best possible care of its students, Saint Clement needed a different approach that allowed for more frequent cleaning and disinfecting without threatening supply. The school also wanted to be sure it could clearly communicate the reasons for and the benefits of the new cleaning program to parents and faculty. 

To address these challenges, Saint Clement turned to its trusted building service contractor, GSF USA, to recommend meaningful changes to the school’s cleaning program.  

Solution 

GSF recommended Saint Clement use electrochemically-activated cleaning and disinfecting solutions, also known as ECAS. These innovative solutions are generated on campus and harness the power of simple chemistry to clean surfaces and combat pathogens. GSF trusted PathoSans®, a leader in ECAS, to install and maintain their on-site generation (OSG) system, which creates one multi-purpose cleaner, PathoClean®, and one sanitizer/disinfectant, PathoCide®. 

The PathoSans ECAS are an ideal fit for Saint Clement for the following reasons: 

Consistent supply.

ECAS remedied the issue of unreliable supply because GSF’s employees can generate the solutions on demand and increase the volume to clean more frequently. In addition to increased concerns around health related to the pandemic, large spaces like cafeterias and gymnasiums require access to a steady supply of cleaning solutions. Fortunately, the OSG system can create enough solution to clean any facility, no matter the size. 

Effective against pathogens.

The PathoSans ECAS are extremely effective on a wide variety of surfaces, especially when used in a simple two-step cleaning process. First, PathoClean removes soils from high-touch surfaces such as desks, windows, floors, doors and gym equipment. Then, PathoCide targets exposed pathogens, inactivating viruses and killing bacteria and fungi. PathoCide is proven effective against SARS-CoV-2 in one minute on a pre-cleaned surface. In addition, it is effective against Influenza A virus, Norovirus, E. Coli and numerous other pathogens of concern. Preventing the spread of disease with effective cleaning and disinfection is critical for keeping students, staff and visitors safe and healthy. 

A responsible choice.

The ECAS are non-irritating to eyes and skin and contain no added fragrance, thereby avoiding allergy triggers. Their effectiveness helps protect students and staff by thoroughly removing and inactivating pathogens without the added hazards many conventional chemicals create. For instance, with ECA solutions, the school’s physical education teacher can disinfect gym equipment without bleach, eliminating the strong odor and health risks associated with the chemical. 

GSF and PathoSans helped educate Saint Clement’s parents and staff to give them confidence in ECAS, delivering clear communication about the steps cleaning professionals were taking and why. The more that parents and teachers learned, the more they appreciated this shift to more sustainable and responsible cleaning. 

“We knew the goal was to keep students as consistently safe and healthy as possible by harnessing the power of cleaning and disinfection,” said Magda Hernandez, GSF’s facility manager for Saint Clement School. “The PathoSans system improves our ability to protect the well-being of students without interruption, during the pandemic and beyond.” 

Results 

Saint Clement and GSF USA successfully transformed the school’s cleaning program using the PathoSans on-site generation system and ECAS. GSF can now clean and disinfect more frequently during the day and use electrostatic sprayers at night, without worrying about running low on solutions or releasing caustic ingredients into the air. 

In addition, parents can trust the school’s new cleaning and disinfecting program to better protect the health and safety of their children. They can have peace of mind knowing the school is investing in an effective, consistent and responsible cleaning program tailored to meet its specific needs. 

“Parents send their children to Saint Clement for our commitment to care deeply for our students,” said Fran Kucich, assistant principal, Saint Clement School. “GSF and the PathoSans system have allowed us to elevate that standard of care to meet today’s concerns and expectations. We are thrilled to have discovered our long-term solution for cleaning our campus and protecting our entire community.” 

Download the PDF here: Saint Clement School Case Study

 

Robotic Vacuums are Helpful Team Members at GSF USA

Opportunity: Taking Clean to the Next Level

Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort, Illinois, sees nearly 900 students, grades 6-8, come through its doors every day during a typical school year. Part of the school district’s mission is to provide students with a “quality learning environment.” Keeping a clean environment is one way to help students and staff focus on what is important – high academic standards and levels of excellence. In other words, “we care about clean,” says Grant Mackall, Branch Manager at GSF USA, building service contractor for Hickory Creek Middle School.

In order to maintain the highest standards of clean and to match their academic standards, GSF USA partnered with ICE Robotics, a global leader in the cleaning industry. Together they decided to add Whiz, an autonomous vacuum sweeper, to the cleaning team to allow janitorial staff to focus on more detailed, deep cleaning.

Part of the challenge for the GSF staff at Hickory Creek Middle School was being able to free up people to focus on more detailed tasks. Two of the seven hours a day were spent vacuuming, not giving the staff enough time to focus on other pertinent tasks. “We want to improve the availability of our people to focus on other high-level activities. We don’t want to replace people, we want to take the clean to the next level,” said Grant. By adding Whiz, GSF has been able to help the janitorial staff reallocate labor for a higher quality clean.

Solution: Addition to the Staff

ICE Robotics worked on site with the GSF and Hickory Creek teams to show them how to set up Whiz and teach cleaning routes. Hilda Arredondo, Account Manager of the cleaning staff at the school said, “Whiz is really simple to set up and easy to use.”

Hilda deploys Whiz in five minutes and runs routes every day in the entryways, hallways and open areas, as opposed to the old riding cleaner that requires two hours per day. GSF’s staff has noticed a difference in the cleanliness of carpets based on the amount of dust and dirt Whiz picks up – it captures much of what goes “unseen.”

Results: A Cleaner Environment for Students

Hilda says, “Whiz has given me and my staff a lot of extra time to accomplish our work.” By deploying Whiz, the GSF staff has freed up an additional two hours of time each day to focus on other high priority jobs. The time back has allowed them to focus on sanitizing, dusting and deeper cleaning in the bathrooms.

Overall, adding Whiz has freed up 10 hours of work a week. By the end of the year, the staff will save 520 hours, giving the cleaning staff 520 hours of production time back to focus on higher priority cleaning. This new level of clean allows students and faculty to focus on what is important: achieving academic excellence!

Download the case study here: GSF USA and Whiz at Hickory Creek Middle School_Case Study

 

Cleaning Best Practices for a Successful School Year

As summer ends, students, faculty and staff return to educational facilities for the new school year – some for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While the percentage of people vaccinated continues to rise, schools will need to prepare for the forgotten viruses – norovirus and influenza. The 2020/2021 flu season was mild thanks to social distancing and other protective measures, but as schools return to their traditional learning environments, following proper cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of germs and harmful pathogens will be critical. 

Facility managers should approach cleaning holistically and sustainably to support a safe and healthy environment when preparing to reopen. From disinfecting high-touch surfaces to promoting good indoor air quality (IAQ), consider the following best practices for a successful start to the new school year.  

Increase cleaning frequency for high-touch surfaces. 

Surfaces such as door handles, light switches, desks and chairs are breeding grounds for germs and harmful pathogens in schools. They pose a risk of spreading germs if not cleaned properly and regularly. Wipe down high-touch surfaces multiple times a day, even if most students, faculty and staff are vaccinated. Remember, schools must be prepared for other contagious illnesses such as norovirus, which can live on surfaces for up to two weeks, and influenza, which can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.  

Annually, teacher absences cost schools more than $25 billion, with substitute teachers costing schools nearly $4 billion. Student absences can hinder engagement and learning. Sanitized and disinfected surfaces make it less likely for students or teachers to become sick.  

Use sustainable chemicals.

It’s critical to consider the safety of building occupants and cleaning staff when developing and executing a cleaning program. Products created with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) negatively affect the environment and indoor air quality. Using safe and sustainable cleaners and disinfectants that meet efficacy standards can help schools avoid causing harm to students and staff.  

For instance, electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS) are cleaners and disinfectants created using salt, water and electricity and an on-site generator. With solutions made from three safe and easily accessible ingredients, schools can avoid aggravating health conditions such as asthma in students and staff while reducing their environmental footprint. If you’re unsure of which products to use, look for solutions or cleaning programs that are certified by reputable organizations such as Green Seal. These certifications confirm that the product or program has undergone rigorous testing to evaluate its effectiveness and safety.  

Invest in high-tech equipment.

High-tech equipment, such as on-site generation (OSG) and robotic floor care equipment, can help schools provide a cleaner learning environment by increasing the productivity of cleaning professionals. For example, robotic floorcare equipment allows cleaning staff to revitalize floors, which experience the most wear and tear in educational facilities, and focus on other high-priority needs.  

On-site generation enhances a school’s readiness to clean by creating a cleaner/degreaser and a disinfectant/sanitizer in a school’s custodial closet. Custodians can easily dispense these solutions into spray bottles, mop buckets and floor care equipment tanks. During the pandemic, many schools struggled to find cleaning chemicals because of the disruption in the supply chain. OSG offers a reliable supply of cleaning solutions and ensures consistency in cleaning results.  

Improve IAQ.

Poor IAQ can cause a plethora of issues for students and staff, who spend about 1,000 hours in classrooms each school year. Symptoms of indoor air pollution include fatigue, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity and allergies, sinus congestions, headache, coughing, sneezing and dizziness. If you notice these issues, it may be time to make improvements to your IAQ strategy.  

First, assess the school’s current IAQ levels to get an understanding of the baseline. An essential factor that promotes good IAQ is following a regular cleaning schedule. Daily cleaning helps remove particles in the air, on the surface, and carpet and flooring. For greater assurance that your cleaning is not contributing to poor IAQ, adopt green cleaning methods like using safe and sustainable solutions and high-tech equipment that thoroughly removes allergens and pollutants like dust, pollen and dander. Additionally, prioritize proper air filtration by performing regular ventilation checks.  

Clean Schools are Safe Schools 

Now more than ever, it’s important to follow cleaning protocols closely to prevent the spread of germs throughout schools. By following these best practices or partnering with a building service contractor to take on the higher cost of high-tech equipment and time-consuming cleaning tasks, school facility managers can maintain a healthy school environment.  

Keeping students, faculty and staff safe is key to avoiding absences and school closures. Contact us to learn how we can support your school’s cleaning needs and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for updates.  

 

Alliance Francaise de Chicago Says “Bonjour” to New Way of Cleaning

Challenge

Founded in 1897, Alliance Francaise de Chicago is part of an international network of over 1,100 Alliances and affiliated cultural centers worldwide and the second oldest Alliance Francaise in the United States. From preschool programs to kids and teens classes to workshops to summer camps, there are many activities and events that take place within the institution’s historic buildings in the heart of downtown Chicago.

With such a rich history and robust educational offerings, Alliance Francaise de Chicago prides itself on continuing its long tradition of celebrating the French language and culture for its nearly 2,000 members. Creating a welcoming environment for all ages and levels of French is key. Cleanliness plays an important role in making members feel comfortable.

“When you are part of a community, you have a responsibility to help support that community,” said Mary Ellen Connellan, Executive Director, Alliance Francaise de Chicago. “We want to give our students, teachers, administrators, parents and others peace of mind that our facility is clean and safe so they can focus on cultural enrichment.”

Solution

Over the course of the pandemic, Alliance Francaise de Chicago implemented a hybrid approach to learning and engagement. The availability of online classes and on-site classes, private lessons and events have enabled members to take full advantage of the cultural center’s offerings, even during the most challenging times. To ensure the safety of both children and adults, a strategic approach to cleaning and disinfection was paramount.

To improve the facility’s readiness to clean during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Alliance Francaise de Chicago’s trusted cleaning service provider, GSF USA, installed an on-site generator from PathoSans® in September 2020. Using water, salt and electricity, the system creates two electrochemically-activated cleaning and disinfecting solutions (ECAS).

The first solution, PathoClean®, is a multi-purpose cleaner that removes harmful collections of microorganisms called biofilms and prepares surfaces for disinfection. The other solution, PathoCide®, is a sanitizer/disinfectant that can kill 99.999% of bacteria in seconds and is effective against a range of viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19.

“Parents are rightfully concerned with their children, which is why we are dedicated to communicating the safety measures we have in place,” added Connellan. “PathoSans is a big part of our approach to safety. We know the solutions will not harm the environment and more importantly, they will not harm our students and staff.”

Results

Alliance Francaise de Chicago has benefitted from this enhanced approach to cleaning and disinfecting in several ways, including:

Improved cleanliness.

The on-site generator ensures cleaner and disinfectant are always available for GSF’s team. The PathoSans solutions effectively tackle visible soils and underlying pathogens, thereby improving the look and feel of surfaces. Additionally, the products do not leave behind chemical residue that can make surfaces appear dull or become dirty more quickly. The solutions have also been used to promptly clean up spilled liquids to avoid stains.

Noticeable drop in cases of illness.

Connellan notes that students are getting sick less frequently, including during flu season. Hand hygiene, social distancing and face coverings play a part in this positive trend, along with the fact that the school is regularly cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the spread of harmful pathogens that can survive on surfaces.

Greater assurance in student, staff and visitor safety and wellbeing.

“No one is breathing in harmful products,” says Connellan. This is because, unlike many conventional cleaning chemicals, the PathoSans solutions do not contain toxic ingredients, fragrances or dyes that can aggravate health conditions. They are just as effective at eradicating viruses, bacteria and fungi. This gives the school and its members confidence that pathogens of concern are being properly managed.

“Being transparent about the protocols we have is key,” added Connellan. “The extra measures our school has taken to clean and disinfect have made everyone feel very secure. PathoSans and GSF are a big part of our commitment to safety.”

Download the PDF here: Alliance Francaise de Chicago Case Study

How to Prolong the Life of your Carpet

It’s no surprise that flooring is one asset that regularly requires maintenance. Soft flooring like carpet is susceptible to frequent soiling and staining, especially in high-traffic settings like retail stores, airports, libraries and convention centers. Every day, your building’s occupants and visitors track loose dirt and wet contaminants like water and mud into the facility. Keeping these soils from impacting the look of carpet is crucial. Read on to learn best practices for prolonging the life of your flooring and upholding your brand image 

The Case for Clean Carpet 

Clean carpet is aesthetically pleasing and sets the tone for every customer’s visit. Research shows that dirty carpet can lead to reputational damage and other problematic outcomes for organizations. According to a 2020 survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of carpet care system manufacturer Whittaker, 93% of Americans say dirty carpet would negatively impact their perception of a business. Thus, organizations risk upsetting and losing the majority of their customer base if they do not have a dedicated approach to carpet care in place.  

The survey revealed exactly how facility visitors would respond upon seeing dirty carpet. More than half of U.S. adults (58%) would assume the facility is not clean. In the wake of the pandemic, customers must believe in your facility’s commitment to maintaining clean environments. Additionally, 56% would look for an alternative facility to visit, leading to lost business that may be difficult to recoup. Half would spend less time in the facility. In places where goods and services are sold, like retail stores, hotels and convention centers, less time in the facility often translates to fewer sales. 

Tips for Five-star Flooring 

Keep carpet clean and extend its lifespan by implementing the following best practices: 

Install matting.

Matting is carpet’s first line of defense against soils because it removes the majority of contaminants from guests’ shoes before they reach carpeted flooring. It is much easier and cost-effective to remove and clean matting than it is to clean carpet constantly. Install matting at entrances, allowing for several feet to give visitors ample space to wipe and scrape the soles of their shoes. Matting is a year-round essential, though it is most crucial during wet seasons like winter when moisture from snow and ice melting products become stuck in shoe treads.  

Vacuum regularly.

It is easier to conduct more thorough carpet cleaning if you vacuum regularly to remove embedded soils from carpet fibers. While your vacuuming schedule will vary depending on foot traffic and typical weather patterns, it is recommended to do so consistently. This could mean daily or every other day.  

Thanks to improvements in technology, vacuuming is more efficient than ever. Consider implementing an autonomous vacuum sweeper that not only delivers a high-quality clean but proof of performance. At GSF USA, we rely on Whiz from SoftBank Robotics, powered by BrainOS, an operating system from robotics industry leader Brain Corp. Robotic vacuuming allows employees to focus on other high-priority tasks while floor care is completed. 

Address stains as soon as possible.

Spills are inevitable, but stains don’t have to be. Train custodial professionals to be on the lookout for spills throughout their shifts so these can be cleaned up promptly. To effectively remove stains and keep them from impacting the overall look of carpet, have a range of different stain removal solutions on hand. Some stains will be food- and beverage-based, while bodily fluids like blood and vomit may cause others. Employees should understand how to identify the stain type and apply the solution to maintain a like-new appearance.   

Keeping Carpet in Great Shape 

Every facility manager wants to impress their guests through cleanliness. Since flooring is often the first thing customers encounter upon entering a building, it must always look its best. By following the recommendations outlined above or working with a building service contractor to outsource carpet care, facility managers can ensure that carpet remains clean and lasts for years to come. This will result in improved guest satisfaction and translate to positive word-of-mouth, longer visits, increased sales and a stronger bottom line. Plus, less frequent replacement results in less landfill waste. With all of these benefits tied to floor care, it’s a must-have on your list of maintenance priorities.  

Carpeted flooring can last for many years if it is properly cared for regularly. Contact us to learn how we can support your carpet care needs, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for updates. 

 

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