Tag Archives: Green

The Checklist Manifesto

I took a walk through Jefferson and the Geography building recently. I guess that’s the most recent development in the life of my LEEP project as of late. Things went pretty similarly to the other building audits I have done this summer. I took a stroll with my clipboard, jotted down some notes, and talked to whoever I ran into. At times it can be difficult for me to know the kind of things I should be writing down as I go. Often times I find myself taking notes that are not things that can go down as work orders. Often time they are questions. I know there is a motion sensor in here, but where is it? I asked myself this one as I was making my way through the third floor of Jefferson. For those who have not been to the History Department, which is located on the third floor, here is a picture for reference.

A view of the third and fourth floors of Jefferson

A view of the third and fourth floors of Jefferson

If you’re at all like me the first thing you might notice is just how many lights there are in this one hallway. It seems to me like this hallway is just asking to be lighted in an intelligent way. Instead, however, the open ceiling is filled with even more lights.

I learned from someone working in her office that these, and the majority of lights in Jefferson, are on motion sensors (only the lighting in the stairwells are not). I guess this is a good way to deal with the problem of needlessly over lighting the space, but it does not get to the root. Are two levels of wall sconces and overhead lights really necessary? I could not get the lights on the motion sensors to turn off, so I guess I will have to make a trip back to really see what the space looks like with less light. I’ll stop and make a note that removing all of the sconces on one level would likely result in the space being dim. However, what if some of them had the bulbs removed? Debulbing, in addition to being a fun word to say, is something that has been on my mind as of late. It’s one of the first things that Jenny and I talked about way back in May, and, to be honest, it slipped my mind until recently. I guess the only way to put my theory to the test would be to hop up on a chair and unscrew me some bulbs. But it’s getting late now and there’s a tornado warning, so that can wait until tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have a meeting with Chief Goulet scheduled. If you read my last post, you might remember that I came across an outdoor light that is always on outside of the Biophysics building. Since then I have noticed at least two others like it. One is outside of Wright Hall and one outside of Bullock Hall. In my meeting with the Chief tomorrow my goal is to learn exactly what constitutes a safety light in order to see if these seemingly useless lights have any real use in being on. I’m also hoping to meet with someone from Alpha Graphics, a printing company that’s run out of the basement of the University Center. That sentence in weird enough on its own. I was supposed to receive an email with a date and time to stop by, but that never came. Looks like I’ll be taking a trip there tomorrow as well. I dropped by last week right as the woman down there was running out the door. She was sure to tell me about all the recycling she does, though. While that’s definitely a good thing, I am more interested in all the machines running in that one room.

Speaking of lots of machines, let’s talk about the third floor of the Geography building. Before the beginning of the summer I had never actually stepped into a room of cubicles. Now I have. On top of everything else I’ve gotten out of this summer I can add not wanting to work out of a cubicle to that list. Hell, maybe that will even be the title of my poster at Fall Fest. Just kidding. Don’t worry, Jenny. Anyway, there’s a lot of things running up there from copy machines to computers at empty cubicles. Of course I was not about to step into an empty cubicle and mess with someone’s personal computer, but I walked past plenty of empty cubicles that appeared to have their monitors running.

These running monitors are a perfect example of something a properly worded checklist might take care of. I’ve been reading a book lately that I would highly recommend that you check out. It’s The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande.

The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto

Gawande’s background is medicine. Surgery to be exact. Surgery and checklists. Over the first hundred or so pages Gawande goes through a series of real life situations in which checklists proved useful. Then, he makes contact with Daniel Boorman, “a veteran pilot who’d spent the last two decades developing checklists and flight deck controls for Boeing” (Gawande). Boorman distinguishes between good and bad checklists. Good checklists, he says, “are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations.” They accomplish this by leaving out select things. Most of the checklists that pilots run through are comprised of fewer than ten steps. Many are even short than that. Any more steps and they risk becoming too cumbersome. “A checklist cannot fly a plane … [and their] power is limited,” Gawande surmises. All they, checklists, can do is “help experts remember how to manage a complex process.” Have I quoted this book enough to let you know that I like it yet? It’s definitely going to be a big help as I move forward into drafting my own checklists. I have a pretty good idea in regard to how I would like to organize my checklists at this point, which is cool.

So. Things that are new: more meetings with various staff members, new results from building audits, a better idea of what my checklist will look like, and a tornado warning. Sounds like the makings of a good week.





Building Audits and keys

Let the auditing begin. I guess some major things have happened since my last blog post. With the middle of July coming, so did the time for auditing buildings. Armed with a clipboard, a set of master keys, and my pencil, I set off on my first building audit. I chose to try my hands at tackling Jonas Clark, one of our major academic buildings here at Clark. Since then I’ve made my way through the Sackler Science Center and our Biophysics building. Jefferson and the Geography Building are next in my sights. Who knows, maybe I’ll do them today.

So, what exactly does a building audit entail? Because I am not a professional auditor, my intuition can only get my so far. But that’s ok. A lot of the notes I am taking advise the installation of motion sensors for lights at certain points in the building. Anyone who has spent some time in Sackler is familiar with its long hallways. Over the school year these hallways are bustling with students as they move to and from their labs and classes. However, over the summer the picture is very different one.

As I make my way through each building I am sure to stop and talk to anyone I see working there. Although there are certainly things that I can pick up on myself, it would seem wrong not to involve the people who spend all day working in that exact building. For example, someone working in a lab in Sackler told me that no more than two people walked past him and down the hallway his lab is on in the past few hours. And guess what? The lights had been on the whole time. Many buildings on campus have these motion sensors, which flash green up in the corners of the ceilings, but Sackler does not appear to be one of them.

I try my best to take notes of good things that I see, too. Take our Education Department for example. I’ve spent my fair share of time down there in the ground floor of Jonas Clark over these past two years. However, it wasn’t until my last trip with my clipboard that I noticed how they chose to light the space, which houses faculty offices, a kitchen, library, and a conference room. The Department is laid out like this: a central, small library area is in the very center, then four hallways close in around the library, making a square. It is important to note that the walls of these hallways, which open up to offer access to faculty offices, do not reach all the way to the ceiling. Rather than turn on all the lights in the room, those in the department elect to only turn on the lights in the hallways, leaving the central area with books unlit. Doing so provides plenty amount of light while refraining from over lighting the area.

Example of a good lighting choices in Clark's Education Department.

Example of a good lighting choices in Clark’s Education Department.

So that’s a good thing. Another good thing is that Media Services tends to keep its doors open while blasting AC. Just kidding. That’s actually pretty unfortunate for obvious reasons. Another thing I learned during my audits is that there is a light installed under the walk way connecting Sackler and the Biophysics building that is always on. Always. Even during the day this little light of Clark University shines. I would be hard pressed to find a need for this light to be on even at night as there are much larger street-style lights no more than a few paces away.

Light on 24/7 outside of Sackler

Light on 24/7 outside of Sackler

I surprised myself a little bit this past week, too. On my way out of my office last Tuesday on my way to play with a watt meter and vending machines, Jenny pulled me aside. She was meeting with someone, and asked me to say whatever came to my mind when she said the word “empowerment.” After a brief pause as I tried to come up with something to say, I realized the answer was what I was about to go out and do. This internship has empowered me. When I began in the beginning of June I was not fully aware of how much sway I would have in the direction of the work I would be doing. Now, almost two months in, it has become pretty clear that I have a good amount of say in what I choose to do and how. Something great about feeling empowered now is that it is ok, and expected to a certain point, to make mistakes. That’s what learning is. Repetition through trial and error. This is something that I have also learned through managing The Local Root, a student-run venture aimed at providing the Clark Community with fresh, local produce. Both experiences have taught me that it is ok to learn on the go as long as you are willing to applying yourself fully to the cause at hand.

This all seemed like a pretty natural thing to say, and I forgot about it somewhat as I set off on my work for the rest of the day. I ran into Jenny the next day, and she told me something I didn’t expect to hear. She told me that what I had said influenced the woman she had been talking with to want to work in a college/higher education environment. After meeting with Jenny, she drove straight to Northampton, Ma, which happens to be where I grew up, to interview at Smith College. Kinda cool to know that something I said might have influenced someone else so much.