Program upgrades

by Kane Loukas

Some University officials want the view from school classrooms to appear clearer when students return in the fall.
A University window washing and replacement proposal is due to go before the Board of Regents next month. If approved, it could supply tens of millions of dollars maintenence and upkeep.
The proposal is a continuation of the ongoing Beautiful U campaign President Mark Yudof implemented last fall. If the plan is approved, it would offer the money necessary for jump-starting the long-abandoned cleaning schedule.
“Prior to removing the funding, windows were washed in a three-year cycle,” said Chuck Thour, senior buyer for the Office of Facilities Management. Officials scrapped the previous washing program in 1992 because of cutbacks. Some facility managers said many buildings haven’t had their exterior windows cleaned in more than 10 years.
Lower upkeep costs have kept the University’s record on interior cleaning somewhat better. In addition, some faculty members who were fed up with the grimy view gave in and began shouldering some cleaning responsibilities themselves.
A growing number of complaints, including several filed by people on campus tours, aroused concern about window exteriors.
“The windows are bad,” said Nancy Hugg, an administrative director in Appleby Hall. “I don’t even know how many years it’s been since they’ve been washed.” Hugg praised the overall maintenance job, but said people can’t be expected to get out on ladders and clean their own windows.
“You can only do so much to make your environment nice to work in,” she said.
Yudof helped speed up the decision to act on the complaints by making a personal request to get the campaign planning process underway.
“If our budget is approved, we’re going to try to do much of (the cleaning) through this fall,” Thour said.
The first and most costly leg of the project involves getting the windows to a manageable condition.
For the long-term, facility managers anticipate a plan similar to the three-year cycle the school abandoned in 1992.
Despite the cost, facility managers said they expect the regents to approve the project and implement it as soon as possible.
“The working environment, the student’s environment is very important,” said Regent H. Bryan Neel III, a board member since 1991. “This is one of my top priorities.”
Most people involved with the campaign said they share a similar enthusiasm.
The University will choose an outside contractor to do the cleaning. Since the beginning of April, companies have been submitting proposals to the school. Budget and facility managers are comparing the bids on multiple points including total project cost and company experience.
Yudof will review selected campaign proposals before the board sees them in May.
After a month-long review process, the regents are expected to vote on the project in June. Until it is approved, total funding won’t be known.
“We can’t nail down any numbers yet,” said Richard Pfutzenreuter, associate vice president for Finance and Operations. But he said the board will have several finance options.
One option would use nonrecurring operation and maintenance funding for the initial window cleaning, Thour said. After that, the program might be integrated into the University’s Repair and Replacement Operation budget.
However, funding complications haven’t slowed the planning process. The desire for a clean campus has pushed officials from planning to action. The disrepair of school windows is one of the few soft spots in the University’s otherwise first-class maintenance history, said Oryln Miller, senior planner for Facilities Management.
A report researched and produced by the Office of the Legislative Auditor this February rated the University’s facility condition second among other state agencies and institutions. The rating would have been higher had it not been for maintenance shortfalls in 10 older buildings in the East Bank’s Knoll area.
Many deficiencies in the old buildings will be addressed by the University’s $206.8 million capital plan, which includes facility renovation and replacement.
The cost of the window washing campaign will include cleaning as well as the replacement of old single pane windows with low-maintenance energy efficient windows. Officials said the replacements will also lower energy costs.