Hennepin County will lead the way by making the transition to day shift cleaning in most of its buildings, including the Government Center, where Commissioner Peter McLaughlin joined Alliance and SEIU representatives to release the report.

Peter McLaughlin
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin

Day shift cleaning “just makes sense – we can protect workers and the environment while saving money,” McLaughlin said. “By setting an example, we will create a roadmap for others to follow and ensure that Hennepin County is leading the way to make all jobs good, green jobs.”

The county, which owns 150 buildings, already does day cleaning at 41 libraries, two solid waste transfer stations and some sheriff’s facilities in the Western suburbs, he said. On March 1, all county-owned buildings – with the exception of a few criminal justice facilities – will move to day cleaning, saving an estimated $100,000 a year in electricity costs and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1,600 tons.

Huge cost savings
Throughout the Twin Cities, commercial building owners could reduce energy costs by 4 to 8 percent and save up to $10 million a year by making the transition to day cleaning, the report by the Blue Green Alliance and the Service Employees International Union states.

In addition to recommending the transition to day shift cleaning, it advises increased use of green cleaning products, more workforce training in green cleaning products and methods and education of building occupants on the benefits of these changes.

“We know that day shift cleaning works,” said David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance. Reducing energy usage is key to slowing climate change, he noted. Day shift cleaning is widespread in Europe and in some North American cities such as Toronto, Canada, he said.

Minnesota, “which has led so often in environmental and labor policy” can again lead by taking this approach, Foster said.

news conference on green cleaning
Surrounded by janitors holding a banner, "Good Jobs, Green Future," SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo (at microphone) and Blue Green Alliance Executive Director David Foster (at right) released the green cleaning report at a news conference in the Hennepin County Government Center.

Win-win
SEIU Local 26, which represents 4,000 metro area janitors, has make green cleaning a goal in its current contract negotiations with Twin Cities cleaning companies, but so far “the contractors have rejected our proposals,” said Local 26 President Javier Morillo.

Katra Arale
Katra Arale

Still, building owners – like Hennepin County – can insist that contractors institute these changes.

“Green cleaning and day shift cleaning should be a win-win proposition for building owners, tenants and the janitors that clean the buildings,” Morillo said. “The key element in such a transition is ensuring that we have adequate staffing levels, training and the engagement of building tenants to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

Katra Arale, a janitor at the Hennepin County Government Center for 11 years, is eager to make the move. Working during the day would mean “I can help my children with their homework and other things in the evening,” she said.

But Arale would not want to see a reduction in her work hours if she went to day shift. Currently, some day shift employees have had their hours cut, she said.

For more information
Read the report, “Clean Sweep: How a New Approach to Cleaning Commercial Buildings in the Twin Cities Can Protect Our Health and the Environment While Securing Jobs and Saving Money”

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