While some facilities are still on the fence about water technologies, others have adopted them wholeheartedly, and are reaping the rewards. Elliott has several clients that have converted their facilities to 100 percent chemical-free or engineered water cleaning.

Western Michigan University began installing wall-mounted aqueous ozone dispensers on campus two years ago, and has become Nichols’ poster child for cleaning with engineered water. To date, the institution has installed 40 units in half of its facilities, with plans to continue rollouts to all 54 buildings.

“We have 167 custodians, and we’re responsible for 4.2 million square feet,” says Steve Gilsdorf, director of building custodial on campus. “We have a seasoned workforce — some of our custodians have been with us for 20 or 30 years. During that time, people developed sensitivities to cleaning chemicals due to constant exposure.”

According to Gilsdorf, introducing aqueous ozone technology was a no-brainer because of the safety benefits.

“It eliminated chemical exposure to our custodians and building occupants,” he says. “It also left a cleaner environment because we weren’t leaving chemical residue behind to attract more dirt and contaminants.”

Custodians use aqueous ozone for general cleaning of tables, chairs, countertops, doorknobs, windows, carpets, and floors in offices, classrooms and common areas. The solution is used to fill spray bottles, as well as buckets and floor machines.

“During the winter, snow brings in a bit of salt, so we use ozone in the floor machines to neutralize some of the salt and make it easier to clean up,” says Gilsdorf.

Aqueous ozone technology has allowed the custodial department to do away with glass cleaner, reduce the use of general floor cleaner, and cut the use of a heavy duty multi-surface cleaner by approximately 80 percent.

“We were able to cut the cost of [ready-to-use chemicals] by close to half,” says Gilsdorf. “We’ve also eliminated packaging material and seen a reduction in shipping-related costs.”

Most importantly, the use of this technology has resulted in a healthier workforce throughout campus.

“We’ve seen a 50-percent reduction in OSHA incidents due to chemicals,” notes Gilsdorf. “Worker’s compensation costs have gone down and employee attendance has improved.”

Although the technology is now widely used and accepted by staff, Gilsdorf admits that aqueous ozone technology was a tough sell at first.

“Initially, custodians reacted with hesitation because it looks like water,” he says. “But we held training sessions and asked custodians to try it. Those who were skeptical noticed cleaner restrooms and surfaces, and tables stayed cleaner longer. They appreciate it because they can breathe while they work, and they don’t have to worry about it getting onto their skin.”

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