Repairs impede students
The ongoing renovations to the UH power plant have caused fencing to go up, blocking off walkways near the Technology Annex building and the MD Anderson Library.
The construction is part of the Central Plant expansion project, which is set to be completed in spring of 2013.
“The new additional fenced area is to accommodate a new section of chilled piping that will be directly buried in the ground,” Richard Bonnin, executive director of media relations for UH, said. “The new piping will alleviate a congested area of the existing utility tunnel ensuring the west side of campus will continue to have ample chilled water.”
The fencing has made it difficult for some students to reach their classes with the ease they did in past semesters.
“It makes it hard to get to class on time,” biotechnology junior Victoria Castaneda said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that much of an inconvenience until I walked it.”
Huy Vo, an engineering graduate student who has classes in the Technology Annex building, said the fencing makes it more difficult to get to his classes.
Last semester, a walkway between the central plant and the technology annex provided access to the library from north campus, but the construction has caused it to become a dead end this semester.
The walkway now provides access only to the Technology Annex building.
Traffic coming from the North and South will be diverted to the Technology Annex breezeway or around the east side of the library and central plant.
“The library is in a central location so this is where I spend most of my time, and if I’m trying to get to a class on the other side of campus, it adds a good five to ten minutes,” Wasil Ahmed, a business student, said. “It plays an inconvenience to students instead of making it easier.”
The expansion project comes after the federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency requested that the University replace the existing equipment with new lower-polluting equipment to meet the standards of air quality mandated for Houston by the EPA.
“The existing equipment in the Central Plant is past its manufactured recommended life,” Bonnin said, “and it is increasingly expensive to maintain and repair.”
By restoring the older equipment UH will be a more green campus as well.
“Because it is older equipment, our current plant is not as clean as new state-of-the-art technology,” Bonnin said, “which is a major problem in an air quality non attainment zone like Houston.”
Once construction is complete, the new equipment will reduce energy use by three to four percent. It will also reduce the University’s carbon output.
Students can expect the additional construction fencing to be up until at least the beginning of the fall semester.