U instates campus-wide winter break closure

The University expects to save $16,000 in energy costs each day.

Laura Sievert

ItâÄôs just one week until the fall semester ends and students, staff and faculty start to leave campus for a little school-free time before the start of 2011.
This year, for the first time the University of Minnesota has instated a campus-wide closure during winter break. Beginning Dec. 24, all non-essential campus buildings will be closed until Jan. 2.
This closure will lead to $16,000 in energy savings each of the 10 days.
Certain buildings, such as research labs and clinics, will remain open for business as usual to make certain that those on campus are getting everything they require, Brad Hoff, chief administration officer for Facilities Management, said.
Closing the buildings, Hoff said, doesnâÄôt mean locking the door and walking away. The buildings will be operating under what he called a âÄúSunday schedule.âÄù
This means that the buildings are not abandoned and will have staff members in them on a daily basis. They will still be available for those with authorized access and the temperature will be dropped only in buildings that can accommodate it.
Buildings housing sensitive research equipment or research animals will not be any colder than they normally are. Other buildings will have their thermostats set to a lower temperature, which will vary from building to building.
The buildings will still be usable, but Hoff recommended anyone using them during the closure bring a sweater.
During the closure, many employees will use their vacation days or work from off-campus locations, University spokesman Dan Wolter said.
Without holidays and weekends, the closure affects only three work days. Some staff members plan to work despite the time off and those employees have been told to take those three days off at another time this school year to make up for the cost.
Depending on their use and size, each building will be given as much time as necessary to reheat before the closure is finished.
Hoff said this cool down will pose no threat to the buildingsâÄô infrastructure as the heat will not be completely shut off, just reduced. Typically, issues such as pipes bursting are caused by doors or windows left open, letting the cold air inside, regardless of what the thermostat was set to, he said.