Back to all Project Ideas / Go Behind the Scenes
When is the last time you talked to your school’s custodians or facility staff? The folks who take care of school buildings are the best source of knowledge about making schools more efficient, healthier, and more environmentally responsible. They have often been trained on green cleaning methods or energy efficiency initiatives. Where can the lights be turned off more often? Why is there a strange smell in that corner room? They know their buildings inside and out and asking them for ideas is a great way to appreciate their work and bring them onto the team.
- Schedule a time to talk with your custodial and maintenance team, both supervisors and staff.
- Plan carefully ahead of time: How do you want to structure the conversation? What questions do you want to ask the team? How will you work with the team to come to a few actionable steps or suggestions for the school or district?
- Questions to consider when interviewing your maintenance staff:
- What green policies are in place, and which are working?
- What green cleaning methods are being used by staff?
- What do staff members know about a sustainable purchasing policy?
- What do staff members know about an integrated pest management plan?
- Do we currently have a way to track how much (in weight or volume) the school recycles and composts vs. sends to the landfill?
- Do you know how much the school spent on utilities (electric, gas, oil, and water) last year? How can we make sure everyone in the school knows what our utility usage is?
- Where do you see opportunities for improvement?
- What do you think we could each be doing to reduce energy, water, and resource use at school?
- What are some of the challenges or barriers you face in putting in place more green practices?
- Act on at least two suggestions or recommendations put forward by the team and follow up with the group to let them know what has been done.
- Reference the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greening Existing Schools Implementation Workbook for more information about LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance best practices.
- Look through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services webpage for resources about greener purchasing.
- Healthy School’s Campaign’s Green Clean Schools Program provides resources to school facility directors without making capital investments.