Switch Your Thinking: Carolyn Hicks Leads By Example

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Carolyn HicksWorking in Human Resources’ employment office, Carolyn Hicks began to notice a lot of excess printing going on. And a lot of excess paper being used. Realizing there had to be a better way to get things done, Hicks made some changes.

The employment office keeps a large notebook of printed job descriptions for all current openings. The notebook has been known to get quite full on occasion, so to help curb the amount of paper being used, Hicks, an administrative specialist, began printing job descriptions on both sides of the page. She soon noticed many of her colleagues following suit.

Her co-workers took on some of Hicks’ other initiatives, such as printing on the back of used paper when possible, turning off unnecessary lights in their personal work areas, setting computers to hibernate when away from their desks and turning off the light in the single bathroom shared by the office.

"I don’t know how much of a difference these things make," says Hicks, "but if everyone started to do just a little, it could have a big impact. I just thought I’d do what could do right now."

Hicks recently submitted these changes to her work habits to Interim Chancellor Jan Simek through the chancellor’s Web site at http://chancellor.utk.edu/budget/feedback/. UT Knoxville launched the Switch Your Thinking campaign in September as a way to encourage faculty, staff and students to think differently about energy use on campus. The university last month also introduced an initiative dedicated to finding ways to cut costs across all areas of the university system. As a part of these efforts, all members of the UT community are invited to share their feedback through the above link.

Switch Your ThinkingOne of the big ways Hicks has contributed to cutting energy use in her office in the UT Conference Center is through leading a charge to bring a more energy-efficient refrigerator to their break room.

"Our old refrigerator was frosted up so bad that the door couldn’t close all the way," she says. "So much energy was being wasted. It was just going everywhere." She and her co-workers brought the problematic refrigerator to the attention of HR director Alan Chesney, and within weeks it had been replaced.

Just as her co-workers have followed her lead around the office, Hicks believes Knoxville could follow UT’s example of energy conservation.

"People say the environment will always be here," she says, "but not if we don’t take care of it. UT is such an example to other people even beyond athletics. If Knoxville sees what we’re doing, it could really make a difference."

Hicks’ commitment to doing what she can to conserve energy carries over into her home life as well. At the beginning of the summer she stopped driving her car to work and bought a bus pass.

"I’ve finished two books already," she says. "It’s so nice to start my day that way. It’s very relaxing."

Tell us what you do to save money and energy at UT. Send your suggestions to the chancellor by visiting http://chancellor.utk.edu/budget/feedback/. To learn more about the ways you can Switch Your Thinking and read about more stories about campus efficiency, visit http://utk.edu/features/switch.

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