Campus buildings to receive ventilation system upgrades

By Meghan O'Kelly

Students grimaced as they filed into room 100 of Gregory Hall Wednesday morning and soon removed their outer layers of clothing.

“Right now, it’s uncomfortably warm in here,” said Burak Keen, freshman in AHS.

After last month’s Board of Trustees meeting, however, measures are being taken to improve climate control and other features of various campus buildings.

The Board approved $4.4 million to replace heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in Gregory Hall. David Kinley Hall, most of which is not served with mechanical ventilation, will see $4.5 million for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as an updated electrical system to support the equipment. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Medical Services Building were also allocated funds for such improvements.

The Board also made the environment a priority by allocating money for energy-efficient lighting in Gregory Hall and Burrill Hall. University spokesperson Robin Kaler said the measures will save the University thousands of dollars in the coming years and help reduce the University’s carbon footprint. These projects will be funded by the Deferred Maintenance Program, which is funded by a series of bonds, Kaler said.

The first floor of Burrill Hall and the Armory, considered historically significant for its architecture, will receive a $2.5 million sprinkler system that will be funded by student fees.

“I think that students will benefit from increased ventilation and heating, and an adequate, calm, cool environment is conducive to learning,” said student trustee Chime Asonye, senior in LAS. “Most importantly, they’ll feel a lot more safe on campus.”

Keen said he appreciated seeing University money going to causes where students will see benefits.

“I definitely think it’s a good thing and it would be good for safety,” Keen said. “If they give money to Greg Hall or the places that need it, that shows that students are first priority.”

With the projects approved, Kaler said the next step is for the University to hire an architectural engineering firm and begin the design process. After design, the Board approves the work and the bid, after which the updates can begin. Kaler said the entire process will take about two years because of its magnitude.

“The idea of the project is to improve life safety with the sprinkler system and move toward sustainability and efficiency,” Kaler said. “We want to create greener, safer buildings.”

Asonye said that adding facility renovations to the Board’s agenda and prioritizing projects involves the Chancellor’s office as well as many other administrators and advisers.

“It’s a long, complex process,” Asonye said. “It’s not something that is decided arbitrarily. We have to make sure all buildings and academic units have their interests furthered.”

Kaler added that money was not allocated to renovate Lincoln Hall because the state has pledged $55 million to do so.

“We are trusting the state to honor that pledge they have made and to come through with that funding for the work on Lincoln Hall,” she said.