Chalmers Evacuates for Construction
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Part of the parking lot behind Chalmers Library and Storer Hall, and areas surrounding the buildings, were blocked off last Monday, Oct. 22, as the Maintenance Department replaced parts of the two buildings’ heating and cooling systems and installed other components using a large industrial crane.
Maintenance workers and library staff collaborated to plan the operation, which involved three separate installations. A new 1,000-pound air compressor was installed on the roof of Storer Hall and a smaller one was installed on the roof of Chalmers Library. Maintenance also installed three large motors on the Chalmers roof, which will improve airflow and energy efficiency in the building.
“Renting the crane for one day to do multiple jobs was a great way to save money,” Vice President for Library and Information Services Ron Griggs said in an email.
Safety was the Maintenance Department’s top priority during the operation. Due to the weight of the motors and air compressors, Maintenance made plans to clear students from the library and Storer Hall during the process.
Dave Boughter, manager of technical trades at the College, oversaw the project. “If something would have released, it would have come straight down through the ceiling [of Chalmers],” Boughter said. “That’s why the library was evacuated for about an hour and a half, because there were four things lifted above the library and one over Storer.” Students were allowed to return to the library at around 1:00 p.m.
While the two air compressors were much-needed replacements for failed, older compressors, the three motors installed on Chalmers were part of the College’s larger sustainability initiative, which is led by Director of Sustainability Ed Neal.
“We capitalized on the crane that was there changing the [compressors],” Neal said. “Not only will [the motors] make it more comfortable for the occupants, but we’re going to save wasted resources as well.”
The new motors are replacing inefficient ones that were installed in the library years ago. They vented excess heating and cooling energy outside, essentially wasting it. The replacement motors, on the other hand, “will not exhaust heating or cooling because [they] won’t be making excess,” Neal said. With the new motors come Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), which adjust to the needs of individual rooms for heating and cooling and change the fan speed accordingly. The VFDs usually pay for themselves in energy savings after only two years, Neal said.