Greening America's Pastime
“We’re all in this boat together. Everybody grab an oar.”
This quote from former Minnesota Twins Manager Tom Kelly sits above the door to the players’ clubhouse in Target Field. It’s meant to inspire Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and the rest of the Twins baseball team as they take the field, but it easily could apply to the green commitment between St. Paul-based building service contractor Marsden Bldg Maintenance and the Twins organization when it comes to cleaning Minneapolis’ new $545 million, environmentally friendly ballpark.
When construction finished earlier this year, Target Field earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (LEED-NC) Silver Certification. With a total of 36 points, it also has been designated the greenest ballpark, beating Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., the first LEED-NC certified baseball stadium, by two points.
But for the Twins organization, this isn’t enough.
“It made sense to do [LEED-NC] with the savings in our operating budget over the lifetime of the facility…but our hope is to become a national leader in sports sustainability,” says John McEvoy, manager, ballpark operations for the Twins.
The Twins organization wants to demonstrate a long-term commitment to sustainability; however, LEED-NC guides only how to build a green facility, not how to stay green. That job of maintaining a sustainable site now falls to Marsden Bldg Maintenance.
“The Twins knew very little about green cleaning. We brought the expertise, cleaning schedules and what equipment to use,” says Chris Norgren, Marsden Bldg Maintenance president and COO.
The slogan for Marsden Bldg Maintenance is: “Always Clean. Always Green.” Regardless of the facility, green products, equipment and processes will be used. There is even a LEED-Accredited Professional on staff. Marsden Bldg Maintenance is at the forefront of green, but prior to 2010, the company had no experience with full-scale stadium cleaning. Target Field presents the company the opportunity to put its green cleaning program to the test at a high-traffic, high-profile facility.
A Desired Account
Marsden Bldg Maintenance is the original contracting firm under its parent company Marsden Holding, a national BSC with a unique business model. When Marsden Holding purchases a new company, the parent company doesn’t rename its new acquisition; rather it keeps the old, strong local name. This gives Marsden Holding a national presence, but customers feel as if they are dealing with their local contractor, or as Marsden Holding CEO Guy Mingo calls it, the “hometown team.”
It’s this hometown philosophy that inspired Mingo to aggressively pursue the Twins — and their new stadium — as a client.
“Cleaning Target Field speaks to our story, our business model,” he says. “We wanted to have the hometown team as our partner.”
The account, however, is more than great public relations for Marsden Holding. Mingo realizes that the cuts BSCs took as a result of the recession may not return to pre-recession levels anytime soon, if ever. To remain competitive and successful, he is pushing the company to specialize its services.
Mingo hopes to use Target Field as a template for creating a stadium or “events” division. And with its national presence, Marsden Holding can target other ballparks, arenas and stadiums as a way to create new revenue streams, especially in this tough economy.
“Stadium cleaning is a great example of a niche business,” says Mingo. “Not every contractor will be able to do it, so if you’re good at it, you’ll be competing against a smaller group of contractors.”
For many sports facilities a traditional cleaning program will not be enough. Similar to schools and Class-A office buildings, sports stadiums are jumping on the green bandwagon. Besides the aforementioned Nationals Park earning LEED-NC, AT&T Park in San Francisco has earned LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) certification. Target Field isn’t even the first stadium in Minnesota to earn LEED-NC — The University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium holds that honor.
“Clients are going to build green facilities and they are going to want a contractor who is an expert in green cleaning it,” says Mingo.
Target Field isn’t done with certifications; there are plans to also apply for LEED-EBOM, says McEvoy.
The Cleaning Program
The green cleaning program Marsden Bldg Maintenance put together for Target Field will serve as a benchmark, which its parent company can adopt in other cities.
For each game, it takes a staff of nearly 200 people to clean the entire stadium before, during and after the event. Green is part of nearly every facet of the cleaning program.
“There is a conscious effort to be aggressive and complete in regards to green cleaning processes,” says Mingo.
Before each game, 1,000 microfiber cloths are used to clean glass, touch-points and the 39,500 seats, helping to cut down on chemical and water use, as well as paper towel waste. During the game, these cloths are laundered onsite and used again to clean up after the final out.
When chemicals are necessary, janitors only use Green Seal certified products. To disinfect, a quaternary-based product is used in the training room showers and floors, but a hydrogen-peroxide-based formula (considered a safer and greener alternative) is used on major touch-points throughout the rest of the stadium, says Mike Kilsdonk, senior event coordinator, Marsden Bldg Maintenance.
To clean carpets in the players’ clubhouse and private restaurants and clubs, vacuums fitted with HEPA-filters operate at less than 70 decibels, per LEED-EBOM requirements. The long walkways on the club level, as well as the open concourses, are cleaned with autoscrubbers that use electrically converted tap water rather than chemicals.
Janitors use microfiber flat mops, which require less water than string mops, to clean restrooms and small areas. With these mops, floors dry within 10 to 15 seconds, so they are also used to spot clean during a game when thousands of building occupants are present. This avoids having to shut walkways or restrooms because of slippery floors. These mops also illustrate the magnitude of cleaning an account of this size; while a typical Marsden Bldg Maintenance cleaning program only uses a few flat mops, Target Field requires more than 25, says Kilsdonk.
Each of the 138 restrooms are stocked with green soap, which comply with LEED-EBOM standards. The only exception is in the players’ clubhouse, which uses anti-bacterial soap to help prevent staph infections. Restrooms are checked every inning to ensure they are clean and stocked. The intense portering schedule helps keep restrooms green: coreless paper towel and tissue dispensers are not replenished until rolls have been completely depleted, says Kilsdonk.
Some green aspects will even be apparent to fans who might be unfamiliar with the USGBC or LEED. Every trash collection point — even in the players’ clubhouse — has two receptacles, clearly indicating whether for trash or recyclables. All glass, plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard are collected in a separate waste stream.
Green waste management goes a step further in the restroom. Receptacles are outfitted with a compostable can liner and marked “for paper towels only.” Rather than contributing to landfill space, used paper towels are composted along with food scraps.
Probably the most impressive green procedure happens after each game in the outside seating area called “the Bowl.” Janitors make several passes among the aisles picking up recyclables and trash. The final time through, seats are pressure washed, but those in the main concourse (roughly half of the stadium’s seating area) are cleaned with rainwater that’s collected from the plaza, roof canopy and lower seating area and stored in a large cistern under the field’s warning track. Before use, the water is filtered through a Rain Water Recycle System. The innovative process saves 2 million gallons of drinkable water a year, says McEvoy.
The green cleaning program is continually evolving as the Twins organization and Marsden Bldg Maintenance tweak processes, looking for the greenest options possible. For example, to prepare the Bowl for pressure washing, blowers are used to clear peanut shells and other small debris. But these machines are gasoline-powered — not exactly green, says Norgren. As a result, janitors are currently experimenting with battery-powered vacuums as a greener, yet still efficient alternative.
“There is an ongoing effort to make cleaning as efficient as possible and high-class as possible, image-wise, but also keeping in mind the environment,” says Norgren.
Green cleaning is about more than preserving the environment. It also aims to make buildings healthier and safer for building occupants. The microfiber cloths and vacuum HEPA filters help improve indoor air quality, especially for the players, because both products capture and contain the dust inside the players’ clubhouse that gets brought in from the field, says Ray Cole, vice president of operations.
However, in high-traffic facilities, a safe environment isn’t solely about green products. It means efficient processes, too. At any time during a game, one of the 200 ushers can page a janitor to address soda spills, vomit, overflowing toilets and other slip-and-fall hazards. A supervisor is always stationed in the event command center in the upper deck and will radio the problem to a staff member. Within two minutes a janitor can be on hand to clean the area.
The janitorial response rate is 60 percent faster than it was during a game at the Twins former home, the Metrodome, says Kilsdonk.
The Twins organization has been recognized for its efforts to give fans a great time at the stadium. In fact, ESPN recently rated Target Field as the No. 1 ballpark for fan experience. Marsden Bldg Maintenance expects its janitors to help contribute to that great fan experience while they clean during the game, says Norgren.
Janitors are seen as an enhancement of the ushering staff and are expected to interact with fans by answering questions, directing them to seats or simply lending a hand.
“They represent an image of the company, so they have to have extrovert personalities, a positive attitude and smile on their face,” says Mingo. “They need to enjoy communicating.”
Each janitor must complete the company’s “Star Services” training program, which teaches employees how to clean during the day when they are in the public eye.
“Customers want a world-class experience and want cleaners that will interact with occupants,” says Mingo.
But janitors impact fans’ experiences even when no one is around. Target Field just opened for the 2010 season so many fans are coming for the first time. BSCs know the importance of first impressions, so janitors clean around the clock to make sure the stadium is spotless before the next game.
“We want fans walking in to get a ‘wow factor,’” says Cole. “We don’t want the first thing they see to be a spilled soda.”
Since most cleaning is done at night under the stadium lights, a small team of janitors arrives first thing in the morning to give lobbies, elevators, touch-points and seats — all the places a fan would notice visible dirt — another cleaning. If it’s a noon game, the overnight janitorial staff is relieved by an early morning team beginning at 5 a.m. That’s a quick turnaround considering the previous night’s game may not have ended until 10 p.m.
“Once a homestand starts, there is a 24/7 Marsden presence,” says Kilsdonk.
Green Opportunity for BSCs
Target Field is a great example of the opportunity LEED-NC facilities provide for BSCs. Although this certification primarily focuses on construction and only one point is available for cleaning-related issues (entrance matting and janitor closet ventilation), BSCs can still demonstrate the value of green cleaning. LEED-NC also allows for “innovation credits” to be earned for implementing anything related to green not covered in the LEED-NC guidelines. A green cleaning program is a low-cost solution that can earn one of these points — which Target Field capitalized on.
“While technically LEED-NC doesn’t award points for green cleaning a facility, nearly every project applies for an innovation credit for green cleaning because its an easy point to get,” says Steve Ashkin, president of the Bloomington, Ind. consulting firm, The Ashkin Group.
The innovation credit opens a large potential client base for BSCs. In 2009, 1,081 buildings earned LEED-NC compared to only 275 earning LEED-EBOM.
Many LEED-NC facilities, like Target Field, want to reapply for LEED-EBOM, making a facility manager’s BSC selection even more critical. Green cleaning is a requirement for the EBOM certification and a BSC’s program will help facilities earn six points for its cleaning procedures and use of chemicals, equipment and restroom supplies.
With its rigorous cleaning program, Marsden Bldg Maintenance is already laying the groundwork for Target Field to earn LEED-EBOM. But even if the stadium doesn’t achieve certification, the company will continue its green program because it’s what’s best for the facility, the environment and the fans.