City staff members, Columbia recognized by Green Clean Institute

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | 7:24 p.m. CDT; updated 7:49 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — Tammy Thomas, manager of custodial services for the city of Columbia, said she learned a lot by taking a course in environmentally friendly cleaning with the Green Clean Institute.

"One of the most important things I learned is that we clean for health first and appearance second," Thomas said.

Thomas was one of 11 city employees who were recognized Wednesday for completing a Green Clean Institute course. Columbia also became the first city in the nation to receive the institute's Silver certification.

The Green Clean Institute is based in Rolla. Its mission is to promote green cleaning practices and to teach those strategies to custodial workers, according to its website. The institute offers Silver, Gold and Platinum certifications for groups that complete various levels of coursework and implement green practices. Those who complete the courses must continue to attend annual classes to maintain certification.

Thomas took the class after learning about it from city sustainability manager Barbara Buffaloe. She liked it so much that she persuaded the city to get involved.

Public Works Department spokesman Steven Sapp wrote in an email that the city paid a flat $1,200 fee for the courses and an additional $600 to have Green Clean Institute President David Thompson come and instruct the first 10 students. Another 40 city employees can take the online course with no additional fee.

Thomas said it didn't take long to implement green cleaning practices once the employees finished the classes. "When everyone takes the course, its easier to implement because people are on the same page."

Topics discussed in these courses include green cleaning basics, green cleaning procedures, traditional versus green products, environmental issues and understanding the impact of cleaning products.

Thomas has taken it upon herself to further her green education and taken the executive course. Employees who finish the training can list it on their resumes to distinguish themselves in the field, she said.

Along with Thomas, the other certificate recipients are Keith Scolaro and Jose Faisca of the Parks and Recreation Department and Lonnie Anderson, Kent Branson, Anthony Burnett, Jackie Burnett, Stephen Throwen, Joshua Jacobs, Mary Smith and William Watkins of the Public Works Department.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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