Impact on Learning
University of Utah
PROJECT: Campus Library and Lecture-Hall Classrooms
INSTITUTION: University of Utah
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, UT
COMPANY NAME: ProTeam, the Vacuum Company
The University of Utah’s facilities include century-old buildings and brand-new ones. Every square foot must be maintained to a high standard in spite of heavy usage. According to Director of Custodial Sam Robertson, his focus is creating an environment where quality learning can take place.
“We’re here to create a wonderful environment for students, visitors, staff and faculty,” said Robertson in an interview in 2012. “The school must be clean so there is no delay or stigma on learning.”
The campus library serves 1,500,000 patrons each year. A standard backpack vacuum cord is 50 feet long, but each row of books in the library is over 50 feet long. Before employing cordless backpack vacuums, it was impossible for a custodian to clean down a single aisle in the library without stopping to change outlets.
In the university’s lecture-style classrooms, chairs on posts are arranged on semi-circular tiers. Like the rows of library books, these classrooms are more than 50 feet wide, creating time losses from changing outlets and, due to the chairs being bolted down, vacuum cords were prone to getting tangled around them during cleaning.
The implementation of battery-powered backpack vacuums for use by the custodial staff at the University of Utah has resulted in increased flexibility and accessibility to difficult-to-reach areas of campus facilities. These gains were also accompanied by labor savings over equipment used for previous methods of cleaning.
Robertson and four other supervisors use every trick in the book to meet the diverse demands of each building, including adopting ProTeam’s battery-powered backpack vacuum, the GoFree® Pro, to help manage different cleaning challenges on campus.
“We did a field test with the GoFree Pro, and the crew came back and said they cut their library vacuuming time in half,” says Custodial Supervisor Todd Stoneking.
“They were spending two to three hours a day cleaning the lecture classrooms. They have cut that back to do it with one 50-minute battery charge,” he adds.
IMPACT ON LEARNING
Giving students a clean place to learn is important, but only one of many concerns that custodial staffs must navigate. With GoFree Pro, the University of Utah custodial staff is able to give students a clean place to learn, as well as one that appeals to the eye and is a healthy environment for everyone, both in the library and in lecture classrooms.
“Health is the biggest reason we clean, but we also want someone to walk in and think, ‘Oh, how nice this looks,’” says Stoneking. “If we didn’t have ProTeam, we would have to do a lot more work.” Proteam mitigates cleaning challenges by saving the staff time and gives students the healthiest possible place to learn and grow.
The U.S. EPA’s 2010 study “How does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance?” indicates that substandard environmental conditions in schools, such as insufficient cleaning or inadequate ventilation, can cause serious health problems for students and also directly impacts student academic performance. This project is an example of providing a better learning environment where students can feel safe and confident that they are learning within a healthy environment. This denotes an attention to detail that reflects positively on all aspects of campus management.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.