Yet another major construction project commenced Friday and could have students going to their iPhones for help navigating around the obstruction.
The 8 to 11-foot-wide trench between the McGlothlin Campus Center and the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building is one of five phases of a $5 million project to install new pipes essential to heating and cooling the campus. Kevin Roberts, associate vice president for operations, said an abundance of corrosion and the addition of the Money Student Wellness and Recreation Center left the university no choice.
“If we let this continue, we will have a catastrophic failure in the system,” Roberts said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make this as nonintrusive as possible.”
Roberts and other administrators, including Physical Resources Director Scot Colley, consulted engineers at Burns and McDonald for more than a year. Roberts said they outlined a six-month plan to install more than five miles of pipe in the quickest and most efficient way.
“When we first started talking, we thought it was going to be an 18-month process,” Roberts said. “But they’re going to use three crews working simultaneously and be finished in September.”
In addition to the three-crew strategy, the route was slightly modified to save time and money. Roberts was aware of students’ financial concerns and said the university will not need to pass the $5 million cost to students; the university issued debt to fund the entire project.
The current pipes were installed in the late 1960s and have a typical life span of 25-30 years. Crews will strategically place the new pipes on and around old ones to minimize outages. Colley said although outages are inevitable as they disconnect old pipes and connect new, they have been planned for weekends and summer days to affect the lowest number of people.
Roberts said because boilers and chillers consume the bulk of energy used to heat and cool buildings, the new system will not immediately increase energy efficiency.
“But this does set the stage for us to do more for our efficiency in the future,” Roberts said.