HomeFree had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Pat Stockhaus, a member of the Minnesota Demonstration Project Team. Pat is Director of Facilities Management for CommonBond Communities.  He oversees an affordable housing portfolio of over 6,000 units with over 10,000 residents. As part of CommonBond’s Green Task Force Initiative, they recently decided to perform a pilot green cleaning program in their Skyline Tower property, located in St. Paul, MN.

HomeFree (HF): Why were you originally interested in changing to green cleaning products?

Pat Stockhaus (PS): The program was initiated by CommonBond’s Green Task Force and inspired by direction given from our leadership. We want to be good stewards of the environment, CommonBond Communities properties, and our residents. 

HF: Once you started the evaluation and testing, what results were you most surprised by?

PS: We were surprised by the inconsistencies of industry standards in labeling and marketing as green, so we had to dig deeper to find products that met CommonBond’s standards. The upside of this was that it prompted us to establish our own green cleaning standards.

HF: What were some of the initial barriers? How did you work through them?

PS: Initial barriers were getting buy-in from our cleaning contractor, cost, and training and education on the new products. The team came together to work through the cost by leveraging relationships with our supplier to procure products affordably. We used product reps to educate and train the team. Through this process, our cleaning contractor embraced the new products and is looking at using them on other accounts.

HF: How has the change to greener cleaning products impacted your budget?

PS: In our case, there has been no budget impact.

HF: Has this change influenced any other part of your facility operations and management?

PS: Yes, it has raised awareness. We started on one isolated site, Skyline Tower, with our contract cleaner and it raised the awareness of some residents and staff. But, we had to go through a process. Just because a product has fragrance doesn’t mean that it’s clean. The perception of the residents was that the building was clean when they smelled a specific product. We had to educate that the performance was not impacted with the change to the new products without the fragrance. This pilot project has a ripple effect. We are exploring the change to green cleaning at other CommonBond Communities sites.