Campus Construction Aims For A More Sustainable DePauw

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When classes started last week, students were met with ripped apart streets and fences around buildings like Julian, Peeler and the Green Center for the Performing Arts (GCPA). Much of campus is torn up as construction crews work to execute the Campus Energy Master Plan (CEMP). 

This $14 million plan is a long-term strategy to lower heating and cooling costs and improve sustainability around campus, according to Warren Whitesell, associate vice president for facilities management. Campus-wide energy use will be reduced by 33%, saving the university $750,000 annually.

According to Whitesell, the project is in its first phase, which includes installing a new piping network. 

The entire project should be done by early September. 

“We’re maintaining schedule. We have had some intermediate milestones for different phases that we’ve had to juggle around a little bit,” Whitesell said. 

Construction in front of and around Peeler appears to be finishing up –  the front entrance to the building is accessible from every direction. However, College Street between Julian Science and Mathematics Center and the GCPA is still completely torn up.

The CEMP plan doesn’t just include the new piping system. There will also be improvements around campus to increase sustainability. In certain areas like the swimming pool and the tennis center, facilities have already switched to LED lights. 

“We’re using some lower flow water fixtures, mostly in showers and things like that, just trying to help reduce water consumption,” Whitesell said. 

Many areas on campus are affected by the construction of the CEMP. A mile of trenches four feet deep needed to be dug to accommodate new piping, according to the CEMP posted to DePauw’s website. 

Another major project is the new first-year residence hall. This $21 million project is the longest active project underway and it is expected to finish in August 2020. The new residence hall will house 152 students.

“If the (Board of Trustees) continues to approve addressing residence halls, then we will start a second one next summer. And this will continue for five years in the South Quad,” Whitesell said. 

One present concern is the hours of construction. According to Whitesell, there is a memorandum of understanding with the city that has extended the construction time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  

“Generally, around the residence hall where students are living, we’re trying to keep it closer to 8 p.m. to 5 p.m.,” Whitesell said. 

The north side of Hogate Hall was closed due to worries that construction noise would disrupt students living so close to the construction area.

They are also working on a pedestrian walkway between the GCPA, Lilly Center and Julian, north of Olive and south of Hannah Street. Whitesell said this will be similar to the pedestrian walkway between Hoover Dining hall and the Phi Psi house. 

Another concern involves the sidewalks. In an email sent to students by Alan Hill, vice president of student academic life, last Tuesday, there was apparent concern about students walking too close to areas of construction. Whitesell said facilities management is trying to create more clarity for students surrounding the sidewalks.  

Near Locust Street by the new residence hall, construction workers  are trying to get students to walk on the east side of the street on the sidewalk by the houses.

Whitesell mentioned some buildings, like Lilly, would be harder to access because of the construction. 

There is a pedestrian bridge between Julian and Lilly to help  students to get to Lilly more easily. 

Many students have voiced their concerns about the construction on campus.

Senior Kobby Van Dyck said, “It’s very inconvenient knowing it should take me four minutes to walk to Julian from my house, but it takes me close to ten.”

Junior Jesse Fromme said he looks forward to the changes the construction brings, even with the inconveniences.  

Fromme said, “I think all of the construction on campus has its pros and cons. It’s obviously more difficult to get around. However, I understand that it’s necessary and I’m excited to see the new changes that are coming to DePauw, especially the new dorm.”