Brains behind building engineering keep campuses running

IMG_9101By Madelyn Olsen

Below the residence halls, below the classrooms and the fitness center, below the cafeteria and even below the lobby, resides a group of people known as the Physical Resources Department. The people in this department work continuously to ensure that the Wabash Building stays up and running. They are responsible for covering the Chicago Campus, which equals to a little over one million square feet.
The Wabash Building runs on a Building Automation System, or the “brain” as Chief Engineer Gus Kalady calls it.
The brain works the mechanicals of the building — the heating and cooling of the air and water — and it is the engineer’s responsibility is to make sure it runs efficiently.
At the Schaumburg Campus, all of the machines have to be adjusted manually. Per President Charles Middleton’s request, the engineers keep the temperature at a comfort level of 68 to 72 degrees.
On the 14th floor of Wabash Building is the air handler system. There are Merv 13 air filters that filter out and let the engineers regulate the air quality, which at present, is at the highest possible indoor air. There are fresh air makeups on every floor, and during the winter, the maximum fresh air amount comes through.
On the roof of the Wabash Building sits a free cooling unit, which is where the water in the cafeteria comes from. There are also hot water heaters in addition to the cooling unit. These units also fall under the domain of the engineers, as they have to ensure that they are running properly. The engineers even go up on the roof to correct any problems extreme weather might have caused.
The Auditorium Building is a different challenge, because of the age of the building. The 880 windows in the building are single ply, and make regulating the temperature more difficult, especially in the case of strong northeast winds. Despite how old the building is, the heating plant in the building is from 2010, and the high efficiency boilers, which use water to heat the building, are functioning at 98 percent.
The building is only only two years from completion in the process of being historically renovated, which is a process of reinforcing the windows, strengthening them and painting them.

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