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Armed with caulk, they walk the talk

MIT Sloan School of Management Dean David Schmittlein uses caulk to seal up the windows in E52 to help conserve energy.
MIT Sloan School of Management Dean David Schmittlein uses caulk to seal up the windows in E52 to help conserve energy.
Photo / Sarah Foote

Showing that they can "walk the talk" on reducing the Institute's carbon footprint, students, faculty and staff from the MIT Sloan School of Management spent May 8 caulking windows in E52 in a bid to help conserve energy.

Organized by John Sterman, the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management and director of MIT System Dynamics Group, a group of students, faculty and staff used 60 tubes of caulk to fill gaps between the sashes and frames of windows throughout the building. Among those participating were Dean David Schmittlein and Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates.

Sterman noted that the windows in E52 are original and in quite poor shape, and should be replaced with state-of-the-art high-performance glazing -- something that likely won't happen until a full renovation of the building is done.

"In the meantime, caulking saves energy and also creates a great opportunity to involve the entire Sloan community in a project that truly expresses the 'Mens et Manus' spirit of MIT," Sterman said. "Everyone had a great time, and those with no prior experience learned a skill they can use to save energy in their own homes."

Working until they exhausted their supply, group members caulked all of the windows on the fourth and sixth floors and some on the first and fifth floors -- efforts that should save MIT at least $4,400 per year in natural gas costs, according to an estimate by MBA student Adam Siegel.

Sterman hopes to organize another caulking party in the fall to finish the rest of the windows.

Sterman noted that while he organized the event, many others were responsible for making it happen, including Joe Vella, Paul Motroni, Bernie Richards and John DiFava of the Department of Facilities, and Robert Planutis of the Faculty Club. Sterman credited Schmittlein for his support and "for letting the group practice their caulking skills on the windows in his office first."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 20, 2009 (download PDF).

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