Tag Archives: Sustainable Clark

Meetings and Audits… What Else is New?

I decided to take a break from drafting an email to President Angel to write this blog post. As I was writing my email to him I started to link him to this blog and, in doing so, realized that I was about due to write a post. So. Let’s back track a little, shall we? What’s new. The most important thing might be that I have a draft of what my checklist will more or less look like now. This checklist is designed specifically for Clark’s 652 staff and faculty members that have their own offices on campus. The checklist I came up with resembles a calendar. In fact, if you were to block out the right margin all you might see would be a calendar with little boxes in the corners of each day. It’s what’s on the right hand column of each month that makes what I have been working on more than just a calendar. Here lies the checklist. Because the calendar functions as a monthly calendar it becomes simple to tailor what the checklist says depending on the season. For example, you are likely to take different precautionary actions in order to save energy based on whether it is summer or winter.

Sample of the checklist that will hopefully go out to faculty and staff.

Sample of the checklist that will hopefully go out to faculty and staff.

As you might have guessed, the limiting factor of whether or not my checklist becomes an institutionalized practice here at Clark is more or less dependent on how much it will cost to print. 652 is a huge number. Especially when each of those 652 people need to receive a full calendar each. That’s 12 pages each, or 7,824 pages in all. In order to save costs the plan is to print them in black and white but on colored card stock. That way they will still be appealing to the eye but will not become more expensive to print than they need to be. I’m still waiting on a quote from Alpha Graphics, and I am gearing up to ask local printing places in my own area that I know do great work from past experience. Suppose I should drop a line to places like Staples and see what they say, too. The good thing is that Mike Dawley and Physical Plant are on board. They like the idea of being connected with LEEP and academics here at Clark. They do a whole lot more than just fix broken things and this would be a good push to get people in our community to realize this.

The checklist is designed to work in the following manner. Whenever a faculty member leaves his or her office at the end of the day the hope is that they will run through my checklist. Once they have completed the list for that day they will check off or initial the box located in the upper left corner of that day’s section on the calendar. Once an entire month has been filled out the page will be removed from the calendar and handed in to an overseer, who will likely be Jenny Isler. If an individual accumulates enough completed months they earn some type of reward. Now. Here’s the reason why I am emailing President Angel. I’m doing so in hopes of setting up a meeting. What if, now hear me out, everyone who completes the checklist for the designated period of time is invited to a luncheon at the President’s home. Not only does this bring people with similar interests into the same room (they all are devoted to sustainability as they filled out my checklist), but it also gives the President a chance to continue his personal commitment to our Climate Action Plan and green action in general.  My plan is to generate a separate checklist designed for our custodial staff, too.  The next step is to actually design this and lay out a template. Maybe I’ll start that after I finish this email to David Angel…

In other news I audited Estabrook recently. The whole building has brand new windows, and it’s looking like the same will be true for Atwood before much longer. Other than that I did not note a whole lot of items in Estabrook. While there are no window shades installed in there now, they will be installed before too long. At various points around the building there are even signs reminding people to turn off lights as they exit a space. Looks like there’s a relatively strong community in Estabrook working to make their building more efficient. Next on my list of buildings to tackle are the Lasry Center for Bioscience, the Little Center, and maybe, maybe, Traina.

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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.