Nearly six years ago, when the UW–Madison Division of Housing made the decision to implement a new cleaning product in residence halls and dining halls on campus, Jodi Krause was at the forefront of the sustainable transition.
Krause, who serves as the Assistant Director of Housekeeping, oversees the purchasing of chemicals and equipment for Housing. After deliberating with other staff members, Krause looked into water-based cleaning systems that would reduce costs and create a healthier work environment. Her eventual choice—a single water-based cleaning product called aqueous ozone—eradicated the need for window cleaner, disinfectant, and a general purpose cleaner.
Aqueous ozone is generated by a wall-mounted unit produced by the vendor Tersano. Once produced, the ozone dissolves in water and remains active for several hours. The result is a water-based cleaner and sanitizer. It is Green Seal certified and earned GS-37 certification for environmental and health consideration two years ago.
With help from the Office of Sustainability, Krause purchased handheld ozone units to test out in the bathrooms. She also purchased ATP (adenosine triphosphate) testers, which allowed staff to check the difference in cleanliness between conventional and ozone methods by measuring microorganisms through simple swabs of common areas. She swabbed the bathrooms three times: once before the staff cleaned; once after they had cleaned the “regular way” with disinfectant; and once after the application of aqueous ozone.
After almost a year of testing, including expansion to additional common spaces, Krause came to the conclusion that aqueous ozone produced significantly cleaner surfaces and reduced residue build-up. In several cases, it cleaned as well—if not better—than disinfectants. In common spaces, it cleaned as well as general purpose cleaners and window cleaners.
The first ozone unit was officially installed in Dejope Residence Hall. More units were installed when Leopold Residence Hall opened in August 2013. In fact, as a LEED certified building, Leopold was never cleaned with conventional disinfectants or general purpose cleaners.
“I had vendors that were not happy with us for not using traditional chemicals. I would offer for them to send me their chemicals so that I could test it against aqueous ozone and then send them back the results—but some of them I never heard back from again,” Krause says.
UW–Madison has experienced several benefits from adding aqueous ozone technology to the cleaning regime. Since the product was introduced, UW-Madison Housing has saved an average of $25,000 per year by consolidating its cleaning chemicals. Krause explained that the health of staff, residents, and guests has also improved. In addition, the department’s chemical, equipment, storage, and transportation costs have decreased.
“I think the biggest contribution or difference that sustainable cleaning makes comes down to health. It’s not just your health or my health but it is also the health of our planet, our resources, our staff, and our residents,” Krause says.
Thanks to Krause, UW–Madison has become a model for sustainable cleaning. She serves on the National Green Clean Schools Leadership Council, which is composed of 12 leaders from different universities and K-12 schools around the country. The Council is a part of the Healthy Schools campaign, an organization based out of Chicago that works around the country on policies and sustainable cleaning for the health of students K-12 and universities.
This year, Krause presented at two conferences with the Leadership Council. In September, she presented at the International Sanitary Supplies Association (ISSA)/Interclean Conference in Las Vegas. She held multiple presentations at ISSA including a presentation on how to effectively train staff in sustainable cleaning. During her presentation, attendees asked her a variety of questions about sustainable cleaning and program trends at the university.
In July, she also presented at the Green Clean Summit in the Salt Lake City School District, Utah. This event provides information about sustainable cleaning for better environmental and staff health by touring the cleaning program, learning from panel discussions on leadership in the green cleaning movement, participating in interactive group exercises, and networking. Krause led a panel that highlighted the servant leadership philosophy that she uses to enrich her green-cleaning staff.
Krause’s success has deep roots: she graduated from UW–Madison after studying Political Science, Social Welfare and Criminal Justice, and even lived in the Chadbourne Residence Hall. During her time at the University, Krause worked her way from a full-time custodial position to a lead worker, building supervisor, and finally to her current position. After 20 years in UW housekeeping, she plans to keep making sustainable strides on campus.
“We will continue to look for ways that University Housing can be more sustainable because of the positive impact it has on people and the environment,” Krause says.
By: Trina La Susa