MCCC replaces windows of the Life Science building

MCCC takes strides towards a more energy efficient campus, including replacing the windows of the Life Science building.

On May 7 the maintenance crew of MCCC began replacing the 39-year-old, two-story curtain walls due to costly damages resulting from leaking and also the potential of future hazards.

The project also goes along with other renovations being done to make the college more energy efficient.

According to the director of the Physical Plant, Jim Blumberg, many people were unaware of the reasons for this work.

“Most people have been asking me if it’s just for aesthetics,” Blumberg said, “But we should have replaced the windows ten years ago.”

Some of the problems caused by the water intrusion include damage to computers, desks, carpet, drywall, the surrounding wooden framework, and costly lab equipment.

Extended exposure to water damage can also lead to mold or rotting wall systems, both wood and brick.

“Water can get into the walls, into the ceilings, places you don’t see, so then air quality becomes an issue,” Blumberg said. “We haven’t had any, thankfully, but you don’t want anything to develop.”

Blumberg said that they have not kept track of the damage or energy costs caused by the windows.

“It was sort of anecdotal over time,” he said. “For instance, we’ve replaced the wood around the windows every two years because it rots.”

As for efficiency, the single paned glass of the original buildings does not help energy costs. Blumberg expects that the new windows alone will save 15% of the energy of the Life Science building.

Regarding the spring and summer semesters, schedules have been constructed for classes to be relocated while certain classrooms are unoccupiable.

“We have a schedule that we update every single day that shows every window area that we’ll be taking out, and what day we’ll be replacing it,” Blumberg said.

Out of the approximate $1M budget for maintenance, $450 thousand is being spent to replace the windows.

An additional project being worked on is the cleaning and repairing of all of the concrete fascia panels, another project Blumberg said was often mistaken for cosmetic purposes.

These panels are the large blocks of concrete that line the tops of the original buildings, mainly for decorative purposes.

Over the years the concrete has become dirty and in need of cleaning, but the real importance sparked when it appeared that some of the blocks had moved, causing a potential safety hazard.

“One panel is about five feet long, four inches thick, and full of steel and rebar,” Blumberg said. “The last thing you want is for one of these things to fall on you.”

Every few years the college is required to have a facility investment, overlooked by an architect to interpret the structural integrity of each building.

“They’ve been recommending for years things like the fascia panels because of the pieces that are falling off,” Blumberg said.

With closer investigation, the maintenance crew discovered that the issue merely appeared worse than it actually was and that the panels were indeed safe, Blumberg said.

Other maintenance being done include mechanical system upgrades, valve replacements, and changing to energy-efficient lighting, specifically the lights in the gymnasium and the outdoor walk lights.

The low wattage lamps have so far saved the college 70,000 watts and $5K on electricity. Over the last three years the college has reduced their overall energy by 12%.

“I’d like to get it down another 5% just with the lighting and the valve work that we’re doing,” Blumberg said. “And another 10% after that.”

Current renovations of the Life Science building will be concluding mid-July.