Tag Archive for Physical Plant

Bamboo WesSukkah to House Jewish Community During Sukkot, Sept. 18-26

From Sept. 18-26, Wesleyan’s Jewish community will observe the holiday of Sukkot by living, studying, holding classes, meditating, eating and socializing in a structure made completely of bamboo and steel rods. On Sept. 9-11, four members of Wesleyan’s Physical Plant staff worked full days to assemble the massive temporary structure on the lawn of Olin Library.

WesSukkah was designed by 15 students enrolled in Wesleyan's Architecture II class in 2009. For the past four years, Wesleyan's Physical Plant staff has assembled and disassembled the massive structure in honor of the holiday. It's been housed on Foss Hill, the Center for the Arts Green, and now in front of Olin Library.

WesSukkah was designed by 15 students enrolled in Wesleyan’s Architecture II class in 2009. For the past four years, Wesleyan’s Physical Plant staff has assembled and disassembled the massive structure in honor of the holiday. It’s been housed on Foss Hill, the Center for the Arts Green, and now in front of Olin Library.

Physical Plant Staff Spearheading Summer Campus Renovations, Projects

As part of Wesleyan's major maintenance projects this summer, Physical Plant- Facilities staff and local contractors inspected the manholes and made repairs to an underground piping system. On Aug. 7, crews discovered a failed drain line, which may be the cause of leaking vapors, visible during the colder months.

As part of Wesleyan’s major maintenance projects this summer, Physical Plant- Facilities staff and local contractors inspected the manholes and made repairs to an underground piping system. On Aug. 7, crews discovered a failed drain line, which may be the cause of leaking vapors, visible during the colder months.

While students are away, there’s no time for play, if you’re on the Physical Plant – Facilities staff.

“The day students move out of their campus residences, we get to work,” said Roseann Sillasen, associate director and project manager for Physical Plant – Facilities. “We get as many projects done as possible while students and faculty are away for the summer.”

Summer projects began early with replacement of the 22-year-old Andersen track at the Freeman Athletic Center. The project included an installation of a new synthetic turf field for inclement-weather games and practice field, taking pressure off the grass practice fields and Jackson Field, the principal playing field for men’s and women’s soccer as well as men’s lacrosse.  The track is expected to be completed on Sept. 3.

Contractors fill areas near The Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall and Crowell Concert Hall after replacing several sections of 40-year-old underground steamline piping.

Contractors fill areas near The Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall and Crowell Concert Hall after replacing several sections of 40-year-old underground steamline piping.

On May 28 work began on a mechanical system replacement inside the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall. This project included the consolidation of mechanical rooms, installation of a heat pump and exterior dry cooler, perimeter landscaping, tree relocation within the CFA, a new acoustic entry door to Rehearsal Hall 013 and new acoustic doors in the corridor that separates Rehearsal Hall from Crowell Concert Hall. Also on May 28, work began on the Davison Art Center’s Alsop House. The veranda received new wood decking, framing and painting. The veranda’s metal pan roof is in the process of being replaced.

On June 3, crews began renovations on the Religion Department and the Center for the Humanities. Both buildings received wall repairs, fresh paint, lights and carpet. The Center for the Americas received a porch replacement, window restoration, roof repairs and replacement of the ADA-approved entrance with composite decking.

Microgrid will Supply Power to Campus During Power Outage

The Central Power Plant team discusses the performance of the main “island mode” generator, located behind the wall on the left.

The Central Power Plant team discusses the performance of the main “island mode” generator, located behind the wall on the left.

Wesleyan’s Microgrid Project – which would allow the university to keep the lights on even during a massive power outage – was one step closer to reality last week with the award of a state grant for work on a specialized engine.

The grant, for $694,000, will pay to connect Wesleyan’s natural gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) reciprocating engines to the campus electrical grid.

“The new microgrid will supply power to the campus 24-7,” said Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for facilities. “In the event of a power outage, the microgrid will power the campus in ‘island mode,’ enhancing Wesleyan’s ability to provide a safe environment for its students, faculty, staff and members of the Middletown community.”

Wesleyan’s grant was one of nine awarded to projects across Connecticut. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection pilot program for microgrids was launched in response to recent violent storms (Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy) that left some state residents without power for weeks.

“These projects will help protect residents and vital public services even when the power goes out,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in announcing the grants.

Cruz Teaches, Promotes Fire Safety at Wesleyan

Christine Cruz is the manager of fire safety and facilities administration at Wesleyan.

Christine Cruz is the manager of fire safety and facilities administration at Wesleyan.

Q: Chris, you’re the new manager of fire safety and facilities administration for Physical Plant – Facilities. When did you come to Wesleyan and what were you hired to do?

A: I began here as an intern on the renovation of Clark Hall in 2001 working for Lee Kennedy Company. I became a full-time employee at Wesleyan in April 2003, hired as an assistant facility manager for student life facilities.

Q: How has your role changed over the years?

A: My role has changed several times here at Wesleyan. My career started as an assistant facility manager; from there I became the manager of customer service from 2004 – 2005 and was part of implementing SchoolDude, Physical Plant’s work order system. Then I was a safety coordinator from 2005 – Nov. 2012. From that point, I started in my new role, which, in a way, incorporates all of the different roles I’ve had at Wesleyan into one. Some of my job changes had to do with the reorganization of the facilities department and other changes occurred as I became more experienced. My job responsibilities have grown.

Q: As manager of fire safety, do you oversee all buildings on campus?

A: I do oversee all buildings on campus, but I focus a little more on student housing because the risk factor is greater due to behavior, cooking experience, and overall number of students living in a building/house. All together Wesleyan has more than 300 buildings, including all of the wood frame houses.

Q: Do you teach faculty/staff/students about fire safety as well? How does Wesleyan promote fire safety?

A: There are a number of things I do to try to teach fire safety. I conduct training with all Res Life staff (House managers, RAs, etc.), and I offer fire extinguisher training for everyone on campus. We usually set up outside of Usdan when weather permits and whoever wants to try it can be trained right then and there. I also do fire extinguisher training with all CERT members, which include staff, faculty, and students from all over campus. In addition, I teach fire safety seminars for students who receive fire safety violations. Taking these seminars helps students get a credit towards their fines. Wesleyan promotes fire safety with various events throughout the year like the Public and Life Safety Fair – the Middletown Fire Department brings in their smoke trailer for anyone to try.

Conte, Canalia, Kane, Cotharin Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards

Four Physical Plant-Facilities staff received a Cardinal Achievement Award in December. They are: Mike Conte, assistant director of mechanical trades; Dean Canalia, plumbing shop foreperson; Sean Kane, utility mechanic; and Philip Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic and EMS specialist.

The staff members were honored for demonstrating extraordinary initiative or providing outstanding service with regard to specific tasks in their department. This special honor comes with a $150 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts.

The award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year.

For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Human Resources website and scroll down to Cardinal Achievement Award under “Forms.”

Off the Grid: Physical Plant Tests the University’s In-House Power Generation

On Dec. 28, 2012 Wesleyan’s Physical Plant-Facilities staff scheduled a power-generation test at Wesleyan’s Central Power Plant. The team forced a campus-wide power outage to test and refine an “island mode” process to power critical loads on campus by running the natural gas-fired co-generation equipment without any synchronization with the local electrical utility.

Wesleyan performed this test under controlled circumstances with a team of technicians, engineers and electricians on site to develop procedures that will be implemented during an emergency with a much smaller staff of campus operations personnel.

The Central Power Plant team discusses the performance of the main "island mode" generator, located behind the wall on the left.

The Central Power Plant team discusses the performance of the main “island mode” generator, located behind the wall on the left.

Hall Receives Cardinal Achievement Award

Dave Hall is Wesleyan's grounds and events manager.

Dave Hall is Wesleyan’s grounds and events manager.

David Hall, grounds and events manager, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in August. Hall was honored for demonstrating extraordinary initiative or providing outstanding service with regard to specific tasks in his department. This special honor comes with a $150 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts.

The award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year.

For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Human Resources website and scroll down to Cardinal Achievement Award under “Forms.”

Recipients will continue to be recognized in The Wesleyan Connection.

Weber Honored with July’s Cardinal Achievement Award

Robert Weber, an electrician in the Physical Plant-Facilities department, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in July. Weber was honored for demonstrating extraordinary initiative or providing outstanding service with regard to specific tasks in his department. This special honor comes with a $150 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts.

The award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year.

For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Human Resources website and scroll down to Cardinal Achievement Award under “Forms.”

Recipients will continue to be recognized in The Wesleyan Connection.

 

Campus Buildings Receive Summer Renovations, Repairs

Wesleyan's Physical Plant-Facilities staff has been busy this summer with several construction projects. The Public Affairs Center's restoration includes exterior carpentry repairs, gutter repairs, minor roofing repairs and chimney repointing. Painters also removed lead paint from the roof balustrade. The perimeter balustrade, soffits and metal railings around the building were prepped and painted. Inside, several classrooms received refinished tables, new seating and millwork. Next summer, the PAC's patio and stairs will be repaired.

Contractors repaired the PAC's chimney, applied liquid waterproofing material, and repaired the slate shingle roof.

Sweet, Velazquez, Holman Lead Small Army in Prepping Student Housing

Facilities managers Deborah Holman, Mario Velazquez and Jeff Sweet oversee Wesleyan's summer maintenance program. They have about 60 days to clean, paint, inspect and repair all rooms in Wesleyan's 225 residences.

Facilities managers Jeff Sweet, Mario Velazquez and Deborah Holman began the summer of 2011 staring down the number 2,863.

That’s the total number of beds in Wesleyan’s undergraduate housing pool – somewhat greater than the number of bedrooms in the university’s 225 residences.

In an annual rite known as the summer maintenance program, Sweet, Velazquez and Holman oversee the inspection, basic repair and cleaning of each and every room in Wesleyan’s varied housing stock, from the aptly named High Rise to the stately Eclectic Society to the multitudinous wood-frame houses.

The project amounts to a carefully choreographed dash toward the end of August – the fast approaching moment when new students arrive en mass. (Most returning students arrive in September.)

“There’s a method to our madness,” says Sweet, who joined the physical plant as a purchasing agent in 1986 and has been a facilities manager since the early 1990s.

All told, the facilities managers and their crews have about 60 days for testing thousands of lights, locks, latches, knobs, windows and appliances – and repairing them asnecessary. Painters and cleaning crews follow closely behind.

All these tasks must becarefully scheduled around temporary summer occupancies – by alumni and other visitors for Reunion and Commencement, as well as summer academic and athletic program participants – and around major renovations. (The latter work is carried out by the physical plant’s Construction Services unit.)

Along the way, a small army of tradespeople and laborers, about 120 strong, answers calls for help with emergencies, such as this summer’s flooding of the Center for the Arts due to heavy rains.

“They’re moving around doing a lot of different things,” Sweet said of the team, a dedicated and skilled crew of carpenters, painters, locksmiths, general craftsmen, electricians, plumbers and movers, mostly full-time physical plant personnel. “We’re getting work orders all the time.”

Top-to-bottom maintenance of Wesleyan’s residential buildings occurs during summer, because that’s the only season when they’re mostly empty. Planning starts during the winter.

The hard labor begins in late spring, just before Reunion and Commencement, after most underclassmen have left campus. In a burst of activity over three-and-a-half days, the maintenance team prepares 500 beds in university residences for guests. Within days theteam is in full swing campus-wide.

Come August, platoons of custodians working double shifts and deep into the night. By the end of the summer maintenance program – scheduled for August 26 – the team will have scoured every bedroom for defects large and small, fixing jammed locks and sticky windows, cleaning carpets and adding fresh paint.

In all, the project consumes about 600 gallons of floor finish, as well as about 1,000 gallons of off-white paint known as “Wesleyan white.”

Also in August the team turns to classroom buildings, athletic facilities libraries and a host of other non-residential university buildings.

Workers have occasionally found bizarre surprises in some residences as they go about their work – a five-foot headless mechanical Santa Claus found in a Pearl Street attic years ago is legendary – but this rarely happens any longer, according to Sweet. He attributes this to steady communication to students from Residential Life about rules and expectations. Not to mention fines issued for infractions discovered during the academic year.

“Waste Not,” a student organization that collects unwanted possessions in the spring and sells them in the fall, further helps to minimize unwelcome detritus, he said.

Alas, Sweet joked, referring to a campus artifact that has repeatedly vanished and rematerialized since 1957: “We didn’t find the cannon this year.”

 

Staye Speaks About Wesleyan’s Energy Use in Business Journal

Peter Staye, associate director of utilities for Physical Plant-Facilities, was featured in the May 16 edition of The Hartford Business Journal. In the article, titled “Energy Saving Projects Focus on Measurable Results,” Staye explained how Wesleyan has invested more than $6.5 million into a variety of innovative, energy-saving measures. Wesleyan has reduced energy about 22 percent since 2005, but the focus is now shifting to a more challenging initiative – changing the culture of energy use on campus.

“Not that long ago, energy was abundant and cheap. Now it’s neither, but there is still the feeling that everyone should have their own refrigerator and coffee machine and so on,” Staye says in the article.

 

Wood-Framed Housing Receiving Home Energy Solutions Program

In the foreground, Gary Rawlings, lead energy auditor technician at Lantern Energy, shows Bill Nelligan, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability, a gap between the register and air duct at 24 Fountain Avenue. The space allows cold basement air to seep through the vent.

In 1900, when the student residence at 24 Fountain Avenue was built, heating oil was cheap. Insulation wasn’t a concern. Window sealant didn’t exist. Hot water gushed from the shower heads.

“We call homes like this ‘balloon framed,”’ explains Gary Rawlings, lead energy auditor technician for Wesleyan’s contractor Lantern Energy. “Air from the basement flows up through the walls and escapes through the window frames, the area around plumbing pipes, doors, and attic. In this particular house, there’s a big gap around the air duct. That’s never a good sign when you can see down into the basement.”

The 24 Fountain residence is one of eight homes on the street that took part in the Home Energy Solutions (HES) program on Aug. 18. Eventually, all 150 homes on campus will receive an energy audit, which may save the university more than $200 a year, per house, explains Bill Nelligan, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability.

The HES program is administered by Connecticut Light and Power Company and subsidized by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund through a charge on customers’ energy bills. Wesleyan pays