Story posted February 07, 2011
Every student vacation, the housekeeping staff at Bowdoin gets to work cleaning, stripping, and waxing floors all over campus. Until recently, such an extensive process took Bowdoin’s housekeeping staff weeks to complete—not to mention the large amount of chemical cleaning agents needed in the process. For example, stripping Morrell Lounge in the Smith Union took sixteen hours! The first floor of Druckenmiller took upwards of three people an entire week! Stripping floors needs stages where the floor must remain wet, meaning that slipping hazards abound. Furthermore, cleaning agents comprised of phenoxyethanols and monoethanolamines weaken the floor adhesive and make the tiles brittle. But this whole process changed recently, because of a new addition to the housekeeping staff named BOOST.
So I met up with some members of Bowdoin’s Housekeeping Department, Joyce Whittemore, Kim Bibber, and Dave Clark, to learn more about this BOOST character and hear the staff rave about its capabilities. Neither man nor beast, BOOST (aka Battery Operated Orbital Scrubbing Technology) is capable of stripping the vinyl composition tile (VCT) floors on campus without the use of chemicals. Not only does BOOST save the financial and environmental cost of buying and disposing of chemicals (it only uses water), but it also saves time – plus the floors look beautiful when complete. Morrell Lounge takes just one person one hour (versus sixteen before) and Druckenmiller’s first floor hallway now takes just two to three hours (versus one week)! The magic lies in the weight and multi-directional scrubbing action of the pads. And while BOOST costs a pretty penny (this particular model runs about $10,000), the time and chemical savings promise a quick return on investment.
Purchasing BOOST is just one example of the many sustainable things that Bowdoin’s housekeeping staff has recently done. In the past three years they have changed to more environmentally-friendly and versatile cleaning agents, switched from paper towels to reusable cloth rags for cleaning, replaced paper towel dispensers in select buildings with air blowers, and are exploring the use of thicker paper towels in the West Hall towel dispensers in hopes of cutting paper towel usage.
Not only does BOOST save the financial and environmental cost of buying and disposing of chemicals (it only uses water), but it also saves time – plus the floors look beautiful when complete.