cleaning and nature

The facility maintenance team at Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend starts everyday with one big goal: Keep the campus as clean as possible, while at the same time being environmentally responsible, reports The Bulletin.

Bryce Mitchell heads the university’s facility cleaning and maintenance crew, which features just four custodians and one groundskeeper. Whether it’s lawn care or restroom cleaning, Mitchell and his staff start most duties by determining the greenest way they can carry out the work.

One example of the staff’s green focus is its use of ice melt — or lack thereof. The mountainside university usually uses gravel and sand to clear up icy sidewalks and parking lots, unlike the city of Bend, which uses a magnesium chloride solution.

“Like all chemicals, it will eventually get into the water table, and it can damage plants,” says Mitchell of magnesium chloride. “We only use it on a particular strip of parking lot that’s in the shadow of one of our buildings.”

The OSU-Cascades staff also elects to clean campus restrooms daily using “light chemicals.” One of the custodial staff members says she prefers this practice because it allows her to avoid the harsh odors caused by bleach and ammonia.

There are times where practicality forces the crew to move away from the greenest option. When heavy snowfall hits the 10-acre campus, electric backpack snow blowers will sometimes get the job done. Other times, the staff has to use university's less environmentally-friendly diesel snowblower.