No more mold: Campus gets summer upgrade

By Raymond Arke | The Duquesne Duke

There was no summer break for Facilities Management this year, as workers tackled numerous construction projects over the vacation months including upgrades to the campus Energy Center and Assumption Hall.

Work crews labored from May 9th to June 10th, making improvements to the university’s Energy Center, located next to Gumberg Library. The center is the campus’s main source of power.

The goal of the upgrade was to replace the Energy Center’s boilers, which have been in operation since 1967, according to Mark Johnson, energy and utilities manager.

“They were out of date and we needed new ones with increased steam capacity,” Johnson said.

The boilers are used for the heating and cooling of campus, along with providing hot water, he said.

“The campus has grown and grown…It was like only having three furnaces in your house, but you kept adding additions onto your home without [adding] any new furnaces,” Johnson said.

The renovations have increased campus steam capacity and allows for potential backup capacity in an emergency, he added.

The summer’s upgrades are only part of a bigger steam expansion project that is still ongoing, Johnson said. The bigger project includes continuing to perform maintenance and make the Energy Center more efficient.

Assumption Hall, the oldest dorm on campus and home to the Honors College, also received an overhaul.

Last year, Assumption residents struggled with leaky windows which led to mold problems. Over the summer, Duquesne took steps to remedy this problem by replacing all the windows in the building.

Matthew Ireland, assistant director of residence life, said new, thicker windows have been installed to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mold growth.

“The original windows were single pane glass, whereas the new windows are double pane,” Ireland said.

The interior of Assumption also received an extensive remodel, he said.

“All student rooms in Assumption got new paint, flooring, blinds, light fixtures, thermostats, USB outlets and room doors,” Ireland said.

The laundry room was refurbished with new machines, he added.

Other residence halls were subject to construction as well. Floors three, four, and five in Towers were completed, finishing the two year project to renovate the 15 floor dorm. The renovations included turning each floor into a wing, adding a kitchenette, and remodeling the ceilings, floors and furniture.

Ireland also said the renovations of St. Ann’s bathrooms were completed, which had been a multi-summer effort. Facilities Management added a new communal kitchen to Vickroy Hall, he said.

An unexpected power July 27th outage briefly left campus residents without steam and cooling, which meant no air conditioning. According to Johnson, a “fault” in one of the Energy Center’s voltage transformers caused a campus-wide steam outage.

“Only burned cables and connectors needed to be replaced to get the transformer back online,” he said.

Johnson said these types of events are rare, but unpredictable.

“Facilities Management encompasses a preventative maintenance program whereas testing and maintenance is performed each year…[yet] equipment can go bad, have faults, and fail at any given time without warning,” he said.

Photo courtesy of the DU Times A boiler sits ready to be installed in Duquesne's Energy Center. It was one of three installed this summer to replace boilers from 1967.

Photo courtesy of the DU Times
A boiler sits ready to be installed in Duquesne’s Energy Center. It was one of three installed this summer to replace boilers from 1967.

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