Nestled between the Rodin Museum and the stately Central Free Library on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation houses a collection of post-impressionist and early modern art that is widely considered to be one of the world’s most important. From works by Cezanne and Matisse to Picasso and Renoir, the collection is exquisite.

At 93,000 square feet, the $150 million building, which opened in May, is much larger than the original building, located in Merion, Pa., where the foundation has been headquartered since its founding in 1922.

When the RFP went out for this building’s cleaning services, Donna Allie, president and owner of Philadelphia-based Team Clean Inc., jumped at the opportunity to vie for the city’s newest and most prestigious public facility.

“Based on our reputation and our longevity in the business and our familiarity with green programs, the Barnes selected us,” Allie says. “Knowing that the building was aiming for LEED certification, and with the priceless art that’s in that building, we knew it was very important for us to have a green cleaning program that would not harm the art and of course would go along with their LEED-certified building.”

The building, built on a redeveloped brownfield site, achieved LEED Platinum — the highest possible LEED rating — certification in September, putting it among the elite of buildings of its kind. Its sustainability initiatives include diversion of construction waste from landfills, a vegetated roof, water efficiencies and solar-paneling that contributes 8 percent of the campus’s electrical load. In total, because of the energy-saving design and systems in place at the facility, 44 percent energy savings is anticipated.

A welcomed green cleaning challenge

Team Clean staff do not clean the art galleries themselves — that task is left to the facility staff. However, 11 Team Clean employees are assigned to the account, and clean most of the rest of the three-story building, which includes an auditorium, library, classrooms, restaurants, a gift shop and offices.

Allie and her team worked closely with Robert Underwood, senior director of operations and grounds at the Barnes, to determine the proper USGBC-approved cleaning chemicals and preferred processes.

Servicing LEED-certified buildings requires focus on more than just cleaning. While facility maintenance at the Barnes is handled by Underwood, Team Clean’s green program must look at chemicals, indoor air quality, recycling, and energy and water efficiency.

Team Clean uses microfiber mops and cloths, and Green Seal certified chemicals, to clean floors and common surfaces in the facility.

The company uses environmentally friendly equipment as well, such as floor scrubbers that reduce water use, as water efficiency is a key component of the LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations scorecard.

One notable construction feature requiring unique cleaning specs is the use of reclaimed wood from the Coney Island boardwalk for the flooring in the expansive court area (see cover photo).  The use of a scrubber that cleans with electrically activated water, not chemicals, is what has helped keep the Coney Island boardwalk wood clean and lustrous, Allie says. The surface gets daily cleanings and touchups from microfiber mops, and is scrubbed three or four times a week.

Storage and collection of recyclables, in LEED’s material and resources category, is required for certification. The facility features commingled, or single-stream, recycling, and items are then sorted by Team Clean staff.

The upkeep of restrooms, floors and windows is of the utmost importance at this crown jewel of the city. The facility’s restrooms are outfitted with water- and energy-saving fixtures such as touchless faucets, low-flow toilets, hand dryers and waterless urinals.

The experience cleaning the Barnes, which has stringent cleaning requirements that enable it to stay LEED certified, has helped raise the bar of Team Clean’s entire green program.

“We adhered strictly to their program and it has been a wonderful experience for all of us,” she says. “Because of the Barnes and their stance on that we were able to see the difference and some cost savings, the interest the employees took in it, how proud they were of having an actual green cleaning program.”

World-class character

The walls and shelves of her office offer a telling portrayal of Allie, president and founder of Team Clean. Dozens upon dozens of plaques, awards, framed certificates and photos with past presidents and other politicians are interspersed with photos of her family and drawings by her grandson, the apple of her eye.

Physically, she is surrounded by evidence of the fruits of her labors — in both her personal and professional life, which is a bit mixed to begin with, as her husband David, Team Clean CEO, is her professional partner as well.

From her B.A. in sociology and vocational rehabilitation from Wilberforce University to certificates of completion of programs and courses for women- and minority-owned businesses, it is clear Allie is a proponent of continuing education. Her accolades also include countless certificates of appreciation from schools, the city of Philadelphia and local organizations for her service and contributions as a community leader.

There is no doubt that this woman works hard — tirelessly, even, as the growth from being a house cleaner responding to classified ads to the owner of a commercial cleaning company with more than 700 employees indicates.

Her resume includes honors such as a Beyond The Glass Ceiling Award from the American Red Cross Smart in 2011, CEO’s Brava! Women Business Achievement Award in 2010, a Harriet Tubman Trailblazer Award in 2006 from the Business Center at New Covenant Campus and the U.S. Small Business Administration District Minority Small Business Person Of The Year in 2001. The Philadelphia Business Journal named Team Clean the city’s top woman-owned business in 2011. Most recently, Allie was recognized by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and given the 2012 Helena Devereux Women in Leadership Award.

To work hard, to do good, to give back — it’s just in her nature, Allie says.

“I came from nothing. I worked my way up,” she says, referring to her days as a college grad in 1980, a single mom with a young daughter, looking to make ends meet. She started house-cleaning, built up a clientele and grew it to the point that she started hiring women to help her. The housecleaners would be sent to homes in pairs, putting the “team” in Team Clean.

Allie has continued the hunt for quality employees who benefit from the financial stability that a good job can bring, reaching out to those who could use a chance (or a second chance, or a third chance) to prove themselves. She has worked with the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation to bring workers out of the welfare system.

Her roots run deep, and she has never lost sight of how important a helping hand can be. When she was young and starting out, local organizations and politicians looked out for her and her family — and it’s her duty to give back, Allie says.

“It’s just in me, it’s just natural for me to want to be involved,” she says. “Our employees come from the community and our employees are our most important asset.”

Innovative, sustainable thinking

Allie is always looking for new, innovative ways to build green and sustainable ideas into her business model — including building an affiliation with the EEB Hub and using a bicycle-powered laundry service.

Team Clean has been green cleaning for many years now. During the recession, when customers were focusing less on green and more on value, partnerships with like-minded customers became crucial for the contractor.

Working with the Barnes Foundation has helped raise the green cleaning bar even higher, Allie says, because it has forced the company to be on the cutting edge of sustainable and green services and behaviors.

“We’re very happy and excited about our green program. Green is en vogue now, it’s a word that people use, but we really feel that our hearts and souls are into this,” Allie says. “We are really happy and excited that Philadelphia is becoming a leader in green.”