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Cleaning Government Buildings | How They Do It & How Much It Costs [Infographic]

 Cleaning Government Buildings | How They Do It & How Much It Costs [Infographic]

The average British household is about 85 square metres and has over five rooms – and most of us would agree cleaning is a difficult and time-consuming task.

The average British household is about 85 square metres and has over five rooms – and most of us would agree cleaning is a difficult and time-consuming task.

So what about cleaning government buildings, or the other great buildings of our society? It is something most people don’t think about, but it has to be done – and often at great cost and labour. Most of the grand buildings in our political and cultural lives are very old (the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace) but others are quite new (The Europa Building, Holyrood). They are all ambitious in design. This is deliberate; to match the ambitions of the society they serve. Still, all of these buildings must be cleaned.

We are a bit obsessed with cleaning. That’s our nature. So we asked about, even going through the trouble of writing a few Freedom of Information requests to get all of the juicy details. So if you ever wondered how the main political and cultural buildings of British and European society are cleaned, and how much it costs, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve even put it all in a handy Infographic for you, below:

Window Cleaning: Palace of Westminster facts

The “mother of all parliaments” Palace of Westminster is iconic all around the world. It is home to the House of Commons and Lords and is a UNESCO world heritage site, as well as a Grade 1 listed building.

This prestigious building contains within it all the trappings of a rich and luxurious history, including special stained-glass windows – like the ones you would see in a church. As a result, it costs about £4 million every year for British taxpayers to keep Westminster magnificent in beauty. The cleaning contract is with a cleaning service called Atalian Servest. The palace has about 3,000 windows. The internal windows are cleaned every single day, by a team of four window cleaners. You read that correctly: the Palace of Westminster requires four window cleaners working on site every single day.

Despite having a window cleaning team working non-stop around the clock, the external windows are only cleaned four times a year, and the special stained-glass windows are cleaned as and when cleaning is required.

By building size, the Palace of Westminster is an impressive 112, 475 square metres. That’s a colossal 1,324 times bigger than the size of the average British home.

Holyrood: The Scottish Parliament’s cleaning costs

The Holyrood building caused a bit of a stir when it was constructed, because it ended up costing more than 40 times what the government expected it to cost. Still, construction had to go on… why? Because it would be a symbolic failure to give up on the dream of Scottish self-government, or to suggest that Scotland could not afford even its own seat of power.

The finished result is an ambitious glass edifice with over 3,725 external window panes. If you were to hypothetically take out all of these window panes and put them next to one another, the total area would be over 7,242 square metres of external window glass alone. When we reached out to the Scottish government for a quote on how many internal windows there are, they Scottish government reported back that they did not know. They do know what the total area size of these internal windows is, however – and that is 5,687 square meters.

Holyrood’s thousands of windows are mostly cleaned every 3-4 months, though some of them are cleaned every week. The government also employs two contractors to handle the cleaning: they are Mitie (Clean Environments) and Trac International. The former, Mitie, covers all cleaning on-site with an annual contract worth about £554,555. The other contractor, Trac, covers all “High-Level building maintenance”; their contract is worth £687,679.

The Senedd building: The Welsh Assembly’s giant window

When asked for comment about how many windows the Senedd has, the good folks in the Welsh government balked at the prospect of finding out – seeing as the building is mostly made of glass. In the end, only an estimate could be delivered to us. The Senedd has an estimated 460 – 480 windows, and the Welsh government spends £17,162 in annual fees for the window cleaning alone. The Senedd has its windows cleaned every three months by a team of six people. It takes them two days to do it.

Despite it being made mostly from glass, the Senedd has one of the lowest counts for windows out of all the government buildings we’ve looked at in our study. In fact, it narrowly has more windows than the Stormont building.

One of our favourite things about the Senedd building is that is very eco-friendly. It is thought to be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the world and has two 50,000 litre baffled tanks to collect rainwater, which it then uses to clean the toilets. Those 50,000 litres baffled tanks dwarf the ones we have here at Pure Freedom – just think of all the window cleaning you could do with them!

The company in charge of cleaning the Senedd is called: ‘Total Support Services’.

The Stormont building: Northern Ireland’s historic parliament

The company in charge of cleaning the Stormont building is called: Precision. Cleaning the entire building costs £210,000 annually, a modest figure given the size and grandness of it. It has slightly fewer windows than the Senedd (Welsh Assembly) building. The annual window cleaning bill for the Stormont is £12,429.

The Stormont building is cleaned on the outside four times a year. It takes four cleaners two whole days to get it looking spick and span. Internally, the Stormont is only cleaned two times a year: requiring only two cleaners and taking them only four days.

So our guess is: the Northern Ireland government ministers must be really tidy, or those cleaners are superheroes.

The Stormont building is the second tallest building in our sample at 28 metres high at the central facade, making its low cleaning costs even more impressive. It narrowly edges out Westminster for size, but is dwarfed by the Europa Building.

Cleaning the Europa Building – The Council of the European Union

The Europa Building is a strange thing: a mostly glass, structural extension on the already existing Residential Palace. The Europa Building’s windows are said to represent “diversity” because the frames and glass panels come from all over the EU and “unity” because they are recycled. There is a “space egg” inside – a curved window-within-a-window. Thousands of windows — even inside of windows. A window cleaner’s paradise.

According to our sources, the Europa Building has 218 ‘main’ window frames and an unknown number of smaller frames. The Europa Building almost certainly has more windows than the Scottish Holyrood building, but the exact number is unknown. Although if you were to put all of the windows together, their surface area would be greater than 19,134 square metres. The external façade is cleaned four times a year, while the internal windows are cleaned twice a year.

It is difficult to give a true height of the Europa Building, as this was not disclosed to us by the European Union. But the Residential Palace is about 45 metres in height, so that gives us room for estimation (about 60 metres in height).

The Europa Building is the most expensive of the major government buildings to clean, costing just under £5 million a year. The Europa Building’s cleaning contract is – in euros – 21,122,178 euros every four years. The current cleaning contract is with a company called IRIS Cleaning Services, they are situated in Belgium.

Buckingham Palace: The Queen’s Residence

Along with Westminster, Buckingham Palace is probably one of the most iconic houses of power in the entire world. Today the Queen’s power is mostly figurative, but there is no doubt Buckingham Palace still commands the respect and admiration of many.

The Palace has a small army of cleaners – over 800 of them – to keep the place looking worthy of a Queen. The Palace even employs a clockmaker to check up on its 350 clocks. Many of them live in the palace rent free, and earn £17,000 a year on top of that.

The Palace entertains over 50,000 guests a year, so we’re sure its cleaners are never short of things to do.

Buckingham Palace’s windows are cleaned every six weeks. Window cleaners need to draw out the big guns for this royal task – requiring over 100 foot-long window cleaning poles to do it. This is in part because the windows are so high up, but also to ensure the privacy of guests at the Palace.

The Palace has 760 windows, 775 rooms, and 78 bathrooms. With such numbers, it no longer seems a mystery why Her Majesty requires such a large cleaning army.

The monumental task of cleaning government and palace buildings — Will you ever look at them the same way again?

Hopefully, by now you have come to realise one crucial truth: that cleaners and window cleaners are the unsung heroes of Western civilization. Just kidding, but that’s not to distract from the huge efforts that cleaners put into the pillars of our societies and cultures.

Cleaning government buildings requires the very best the window cleaner has to offer — but it’s not just the Royals who get the privilege. Window cleaners can give their customers the Royal treatment with the water fed pole systems that we sell, our poles & brushes, and with the right fittings.

Visit our home page for more information, or contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading.

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