Time to clean up, purge storage spaces on campus

A barn owned by the College of Veterinary Medicine is getting a major overhaul as storage is cleaned out. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Space is tight around the OSU campus, and like a homeowner needing to purge the attic every few years, departments and colleges are being asked to take a serious look at what they’re hanging onto, and whether they really need to keep it.

Hard decisions are being made around campus as storage closets are being emptied and dust is being blown off items that haven’t seen the light of day in years. In the towering barn on Washington Way owned by the College of Veterinary Medicine, Terry Robertson, facilities coordinator for Veterinary Medicine, stood in a cloud of dust as workers dragged boxes past him on the wide barn floor.

“The issue of storage is huge on campus,” Robertson said. “It’s an effort to just keep what we need to keep and get rid of what we don’t.”

Robertson, who used to work for campus surplus, knows that it’s hard for some people to let go of things. In preparation for the cleaning of the vet barn, he sent an email to everyone in the college to find out exactly who had things stored in the barn and what was necessary to keep. Then a team of volunteers from the college as well as staff from business services went about the task of digging, cleaning and purging.

Ryan Gilleese, who works with Business Services, helped decide what discarded items were worth gathering and either selling or recycling to keep a majority of items out of the dumpster.

Ryan Gilleese with Business Services moves storage out of a barn on campus. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

“We try and recycle as much as possible,” he said, and items that can be are sold either through an auction at the surplus store, or on-line. The sales help fund the work Gilleese and other staff members do when cleaning out storage facilities.

Jean Duffett with campus planning is helping oversee much of the clean-up effort. Working alongside Bob Nettles, director of administrative services at OSU, Duffett is helping implement what they are calling the “5S” program at OSU. It’s based on a series of standards first established at Toyota facilities, which focuses companies and organizations on de-cluttering. The 5S philosophy is based on Japanese words beginning with ‘S’ and looks at simplifying your work environment, reducing waste and non-value activity while improving quality, efficiency and safety.

The benefit of the 5S approach is that it maximizes space usage for improved performance. By removing as much unneeded storage as possible, spaces can be freed up for other uses that are in greater demand on campus, such as offices, labs and even classrooms. As OSU continues to grow, getting the core of campus cleaned up becomes even more important.

Of course some storage will always be necessary, Duffett said, but units need to organize and thin down what is being stored, and try to keep long-term storage outside the main campus core.

Zach Heppner with Business Services loads trash into a bag during a clean-up project. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

She said a big focus of the program, in addition to freeing up space that could be used for other purposes, is to find ways to repurpose or sell items that are no longer being used by departments and individuals, which is why the partnership with Business Services is so crucial. Many items can be dismantled and recycled. The last option for unwanted items is to discard them at the dump.

While Facilities Services and the College of Veterinary Medicine have been the first to step up to participate in the project, Duffett hopes to reach out to departments and offices across the campus to help them clean up their spaces.

“This whole project is a way to shine up the campus,” she said. “We’re helping staff remove stuff they don’t need and allowing for more use of the space. We recognize that space is a priority on campus and becoming a more precious commodity every year.”

~ Theresa Hogue

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