Lehigh University
Lehigh University

LEAN Mold Emergency Response Project

Our students experience a lot while on our campus and in our residence halls.  Some of the experiences can be stressful.  In the summer of 2018, the excessive heat and humidity introduced a new challenge for our students and for our staff in Housing Services, Facilities Services, and Environmental Health and Safety.  Our teams found mold in a number of residence hall rooms and apartments. At that time, we didn't have a defined or easily repeatable process to resolve these complaints, resulting in inconsistency in handling them.

Using Lean methodologies, a cross functional team was formed, consisting of Housing Services, Facilities, and Environmental Health and Safety personnel, to create a process that could quickly address and resolve the many issues that arise when remediating mold. The team outlined goals that included: saving time, improving the student experience, reducing potentially negative press, improving collaboration between departments, enhancing communication with students (and often parents), and saving financial resources.

The team mapped the current process, identified and eliminated waste (in time and resources), and developed new solutions to address mold issues at Lehigh.

The multi-pronged approach included:

  • Preventive Measures
  • Mold Reporting Intake Process
  • Issue Investigation, Testing & Remediation Planning
  • Communications Protocols
  • Mold Awareness & Education Strategies
  • SOPs, Tracking & Reporting
  • Monitoring & Continuous Improvement

By implementing these strategies, particularly preventive measures, the number of reported issues decreased to 11 this summer (with only 1 resulting in an actual mold issue).  The Mold Emergency Response Team also reported a 46.8% reduction in stress levels from 2018 to 2019 as a result of adhering to the new process.   All participants completed a survey at the launch and at completion of the LEAN project that specifically addressed the levels of stress experienced when a mold issue was reported and during the investigation and remediation process.   Stress levels at launch were at the highest level of the scale for all participants, with significant reduction when surveyed this fall.  We will continue to monitor the new process and identify areas for ongoing improvement.

If you have an existing process that could benefit from Lean process improvement, please contact Jane Altemose at jca209 or x84637 to discuss further.