STU to spend $5 million on renovations

University asks for spending extension from federal government

As he walks the second and third floor hallways of Edmond Casey Hall, Bill MacLean pokes his head into offices with open doors to view the progress of renovations.

The old building on campus needs another face-lift. MacLean, the director of facilities management at St. Thomas University, has been overseeing the renovations. He says there’s two reasons why they’re happening now.

“One is wear and tear and while you’re doing something you want to improve efficiency. So we’re renewing, or refreshing, the windows and a number of systems like lighting and heating systems.”

Another reason is because STU has to spend its $5,000,000 portion of Canada’s Economic Action Plan before March 2011 to qualify for the funding.

MacLean had to file an appeal to the government last week for an extension to the deadline. A large amount of work is expected to be done over the summer, including replacing the old windows in Vanier and Harrington Hall.

He says he has no reason to expect the request will not be approved.

“We’re very happy with the funding we got and we could probably use even more,” said MacLean. “It’s not a be-all and end-all to the renovations needed to our buildings, but it’s a good start.”

According to Lawrence Durling, VP finance and administration at STU, the university received the government funding back in June 2009 and began spending it later than fall.

***

In one room in ECH, a professor unpacks boxes of books and folders after having been evicted from his office for two weeks. The professor hands MacLean a metal filing cabinet part he no longer needs. MacLean carries it with him the rest of the way down the hall, inspecting the work being done.

In another room, a professor is midway through packing up his office. The professor laughs as he says how much junk he’s found in his office.

In ECH, professors are moving out of their offices so workers can replace ceiling and floor tiles, some of which contain asbestos. Both walls and windows are receiving work. In the basement the psychology labs have been completely refinished and just need a few finishing touches.

MacLean says that some of the work happening on campus was previously planned, but the rest was added when the university received its stimulus funding from the federal government.

According to an audit done before renovations began, George Martin Hall, another old building on campus used 48 per cent more energy than comparable buildings. MacLean said this is because of things like old windows, non-insulated walls and old ventilation systems and lights.

An experiment done over the Christmas showed that adjusting the ventilation system to switch on and off throughout the day could cut energy costs by $500 per day. This could save GMH $10,000 per year.

The renovations would pay for themselves over a total period of eight years.

If the windows, weather stripping, lighting, ventilation and plumbing work are completed, the university could see nearly $19,000 in energy saving costs per year in GMH. Similar numbers would apply for ECH.

Other work in GMH includes the elevator, hallways, and washrooms which all received upgrades or will be upgraded.

In the summer, the university also plans to improve the look of the dumpster area by Vanier Hall, improving the ventilation systems in buildings, and extending the sprinklers used for fire control in ECH.

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