Emory Report
June 9, 2008
Volume 60, Number 32



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June 9, 2008
Employees’ Bright Ideas pay off in funds, satisfaction

By Kim Urquhart

Contributing to Bright Ideas at Emory paid off for three employees, whose plans for their $1,000 award money range from “green” investments to investing in education.

Julie Hale, Guy Mitchell and William Washburn were the grand prize-winners announced at Staff Fest, where 50 cameras were given away in a drawing to the 185 employees who submitted a Bright Idea and six honorable mentions received $300 each.

It was the first round of awards for the new initiative that is challenging Emory employees to think about ways to save time or money and improve the quality of their workplace. Participating was easy, says Mitchell, a Campus Services carpenter whose winning idea involves recycling sprinkler water when draining the system.

The Bright Ideas program works like this: Employees submit their problem-solving proposal via www.brightideas.emory.edu, where it is reviewed by the Bright Ideas Committee. The most promising ideas are forwarded for further review and possible implementation, but all employees who submit an idea are eligible for various awards and recognition.

After learning she was a grand prize-winner at Staff Fest, Hale promptly visited the booth collecting money for China’s earthquake relief fund. “I was able to make a more generous donation,” says Hale, project manager for engineering services in Facilities Management. Hale, who is earning an undergraduate degree from Emory, was also able to buy a new laptop.

Hale’s winning idea — recovering the water that is wasted during fire pump tests — was inspired as she was conducting a test. She suggests capturing the gray water that is released during testing and using it for irrigating campus foliage. “There is a huge potential for recovering many hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water at every fire pump test,” says Hale.

Washburn too saw potential solutions and decided to submit a few ideas. “I want my alma mater to be one of the best schools when it comes to energy conservation,” says Washburn ’97Ox–’99C, whose winning idea involves offsetting energy usage with renewable power. The Emory police officer has opened an investment account and set aside the bulk of his Bright Ideas award for his own green energy investments.

Ideas that won awards will not necessarily be implemented, but were selected as “the most notable” by the Bright Ideas Committee, says Deborah Moyers, associate vice president for campus services administration and a member of the Excellence Through Leadership team that created Bright Ideas.

“The criteria is to save Emory time, money, or improve the quality of work-life, and these were the ideas that we felt like had the best chance of doing that,” she says.

Moyers hopes that faculty, staff and student employees will continue to participate in the program, which will be awarding more prizes in the future.

“I’m looking forward to submitting some more ideas,” says Mitchell, who plans to use his prize money for a summer vacation. “The University is committed to the green philosophy and so am I. I think there’s a whole bunch of ways we can save lots of money.”