Let there be darkness

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As I toured the hallways of my command, I noticed that a lot of lights were left on in unoccupied rooms. We’re not talking about offices, these were secondary rooms that no one planned to come back to. I went through and turned them off. The next day I had the same issue. This happened several times a week in multiple spaces. At what point do I draw a line and say enough is enough? I’m not trying to save the world. However, If I see waste I try to eliminate it.

Public works is a part of the Naval Base that helps tenant commands with a lot of projects. I sent in a request to meet with one of the project managers. He gladly sat down and went over some options. I opted for the motion detection light switch. The project manager explained that some motion detecting light can have alternate sensors wired in. this is done to compensate for a switch that is in a bad location.

Six months later electricians show up and start installing the new light switches. I did not put in an order with what type of switch that got installed. Offices started going dark as they came in and shut off circuits. Public works apologized for the confusion and the lack of communication. Within two days all of the light switches were converted over. Everything got cleaned up and the dust settled. We were left with the ominous question of “was it worth it?”

The next morning I walked in and all of the lights were off. As I walked through the passageways, lights began to illuminate. I did not have to fumble with switches. All I had to do was walk. As the day passed,I walked around. Every occupied office was lit, and every unoccupied space was dark. This is what I wanted. We had a passive system that helped cut down on our lighting. This was not about saving energy, although I did use that as a selling point. It was about leaving lights on when no one was using them.

This project so simple and made so much sense that I wondered why it hadn’t been done before. Any project or job that we walk into has potential for improvement. Take the time to assess any problem that you may have or any other personnel may have. Write down all of the solutions and analyze which one would most efficiently solve the problem. Keep it simple. Do not over think your problem. If a solution cannot be found seek help. Outsourcing for a solution may be your best option. Just make sure to follow up and verify that your expectations have been met. Stay positive. It is easier to find solutions with a positive attitude than with a negative one. People will be more willing to help if you have a positive attitude also.


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