Impact on Learning

Drake University

Project Snapshot

PROJECT: Cleaning for Health First
INSTITUTION: Drake University
LOCATION: Des Moines, IA
COMPANY NAME: ProTeam, the Vacuum Company

Cleaning for Health First

University Achieves Cleaning for Health First


About 15 years ago, the custodial staff at Drake University cleaned by zone. Each cleaner tackled a building or two and performed all cleaning tasks within that zone. By July of 2003, they were ready for a change. With the help of Sodexo, the custodial department implemented a systematized approach to cleaning using teams of specialists, the Sodexo Cleaning System.

There are four types of specialist in the Sodexo Cleaning System: the utility specialist, the light duty specialist, the vacuum specialist and the restroom specialist. Each Drake custodian went through a 20-hour training course to become a specialist and perfect his or her cleaning skills. The vacuum specialists learned how to properly fit, use and maintain their ProTeam backpack vacuums. Currently, Drake custodians use two models of the backpack vacuum, the Super Coach Pro and the Super CoachVac.

Cleaning for Health First


“The ProTeam backpack vacuums are great,” says Custodial Manager Nancy Macedo. “They are comfortable. They clean well, and they reduce overall dust levels which are an important part of the process of our cleaning system, allowing us to Clean for Health First.”

According to Macedo, using ProTeam backpack vacuums increased the longevity of the filters in the HVAC system and reduced the amount of dust on horizontal surfaces throughout the university’s buildings. Reducing dust and particulate matter is an important part of creating a healthy indoor environment. One of the key goals of the Sodexo Cleaning System is to clean for health rather than for appearance.


“It’s important to have good air quality, so that students can concentrate on passing their exams,” says Macedo. “They won’t learn to their best benefit if they are suffering from allergies due to dust or poor cleaning. We are here for the students, and we want them to feel good in our buildings.”

Cleaning for Health First

The Drake University custodial crew cleans 58 academic and residence halls plus 55 rental-housing properties with 150 rental units. Altogether, these comprise over two million square feet of facility space.

“We have fewer injuries and accidents in the custodial department. It is also easier to provide coverage when we are short-staffed,” says Macedo. “With the Sodexo Cleaning System and ProTeam backpack vacuums, we have cleaner buildings and better quality of work. We know our buildings are healthy for the students.”

Editor’s Review

The U.S. EPA’s 2010 study, “How Does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance?” indicates that substandard environmental conditions in schools, such as inadequate cleaning or poor ventilation, can cause serious health problems, which directly impacts academic performance. This focus by Drake University on ensuring that their facilities are cleaned for “Health First” is an example of providing a safe learning environment, which in turn promotes student success.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .