Impact on Learning
Des Moines University
Des Moines University
Des Moines, IA
the Vacuum Company
Giving students clean, safe facilities in which to learn is one of the most important things an institution can do. Protecting student health leads to more days in the classroom, which leads to greater knowledge retention and success.
In December 2016, when Nancy Macedo began as
custodial manager at the largest medical school in Iowa, Des
Moines University (DMU), she had a clean slate. The Bostonbased
facility services company UG2 had just been contracted
by the university after 17 years with their previous service
provider. The custodial staff was newly hired and ready to
be trained on efficient tools and processes. Her task was to
rebuild the cleaning program from the ground up.
“The university needed cleaner buildings; they need
to see a dramatic change,” says Macedo. “We moved to efficient,
effective and healthy green cleaning methods.”
DMU educates about 1,700 students in eight graduate
disciplines. Macedo’s staff of 20 cleans 664,000 square feet of
facility space with only part-time hours. To be more productive
with fewer hours, she trained them to work in teams
of specialists. Each specialist perfects a limited number of
cleaning tasks and does them in a more efficient and effective
way (vacuum specialist, restroom specialist, etc.). They
use innovative tools, like color-coded microfiber, certified
green chemicals and high-filtration ProTeam Super Coach Pro
After weeks of initial training, the staff began cleaning
the university. They discovered intense soil buildup from
many years of inadequate cleaning.
“It was 17 years of accumulated dirt in some places,”
says Macedo. “The vacuum specialist would start with a
brand new filter bag in the early morning, and, within three
hours, it was jam-packed.”
The backpack vacuums also greatly improved productivity.
A former employee told Macedo that it used to take
over two hours to vacuum the auditorium with an upright
vacuum due to maneuvering around the stationary chairs.
The vacuum specialist can now clean the same space in just
35.2 minutes with the Super Coach Pro backpack vacuum.
(Macedo timed it with a stopwatch.)
“The staff loves the backpack vacuums,” says Macedo.
“The fit is extremely important. Once you adjust it to the user,
they are very comfortable.”
IMPACT ON LEARNING
For Macedo, providing productive, ergonomic tools is
part of empowering the employee to succeed.
“I want everybody to be successful in his or her position.
We’re always making sure that our workers are treated as first
class citizens, because they do such important work,” says
Macedo. “Clean buildings are critical for the university to fulfill
its mission. They help protect the health of the students, so that
the students can learn and do their best work.”
The U.S. EPA’s 2010
study, “How Does Indoor
Air Quality Impact Student
Health and Academic Performance?”
conditions in schools, such
as inadequate cleaning or
poor ventilation, can cause
serious health problems,
which directly impacts
This focus by Des Moines
University on improving
their custodial cleaning
program is an example of
providing a healthy, clean
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.