UW-W dorm plan gets more money

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Kevin Murphy
Friday, February 19, 2010
— The State Building Commission added $1.92 million Wednesday to two UW-Whitewater dormitory renovation projects and approved a $296,000 solar collector system for the new College of Business building.

The university has a 12-year plan underway to renovate its 12 dorms built before 1968. Tutt and Knilans halls already have been renovated, said Randy Marnocha, a UW-Whitewater vice chancellor.

Wednesday’s vote authorized the remodeling of 268-bed Wellers Hall, which will begin in October and be completed in June 2011. Renovations to 210-bed Fischer Hall are scheduled to begin in June 2011 and be completed by March 2012.

Completion of the 456-bed Starin Hall this fall will absorb residents displaced during renovations to Wellers and Fischer, said Marnocha.

“There was a period when student demand for on-campus housing wasn’t very high, but that demand for on-campus services has really increased both for upper and lower classmen. Starin received more than twice as many applications than there were rooms available,” he said.

The dorm projects were budgeted last year at $8.5 million but would have resulted in a loss of 16 dorm rooms to provide space for larger bathrooms and other improvements. Part of the additional $1.92 million authorized Wednesday is for additions to the dorms to retain the 16 rooms and the associated dorm fee revenue, Marnocha said.

Fischer’s addition will provide space for external elevator shafts, bigger bathrooms and a bathroom exhaust heat recovery room to conserve energy. Additional funding also was needed for asbestos removal.

Renovations to both dorms will replace mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, windows and doors, add fire sprinkler systems and bring restrooms in compliance with accessibility requirements.

All funding comes from dorm fees, which are about $4,000 annually. Those fees will increase 3 percent a year during the next 12 years to recover the cost of renovating the remaining dorms, said David Miller, a UW System vice president.

The university’s solar photovoltaic system for the roof of Hyland Hall received slightly less enthusiasm from the commission. The 1,200-square-foot array could generate power valued at $4,361 or approximately 37,900 kilowatt-hours per year, a fraction of the building’s annual electrical usage, said Miller.

With a 28-year payback, the system’s main benefit wouldn’t be energy efficiency but education about energy sustainability and increased public awareness of energy conservation, he said.

“This will be a demonstration project with the power fed to an energy dashboard in a public viewing area that will show the amount of power generated and used,” said Miller.

With similar demonstration sites approved for UW-Parkside, UW-Milwaukee and State Fair Park, State Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, who voted against the project, said he hopes this will be the last one.

Commission Secretary David Helbach said the project is to be funded from campus accounts with grants to be obtained from Focus on Energy and WE Energies.

Last updated: 12:51 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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