Spotlight Projects

  • Retrocommissioning

    Aug 26, 2015

    Ceramics houseThe Ceramics Kiln House hosts instructional lab classes for the Department of Material Science and Engineering daily during the school year, but the laboratories are unoccupied during the evenings, weekends, and summer. This somewhat predictable schedule made the Kiln House labs ideal candidates for scheduling and energy conservation measures.

    In keeping with the university’s Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) goal of energy conservation, Karl Helmink, Guy Grant, and the Retrocommisioning team contacted Nicole Robards, Kiln House instructional lab coordinator, about possible laboratory retrofits that would reduce energy use and promote greater safety.

    A chemical fume hood (CFH) is an exhaust system specially designed to limit exposure to hazardous chemical vapors and dusts from anything being used inside the hood. CFH exhaust fans in the Kiln House ran 24 hours a day, even though they were only needed for limited periods of time, sometimes with no use for weeks or months at a time. There was not a mechanism to turn off the exhaust fans during idle times. After a detailed study of the lab, the retrocommissioning team installed controls to the existing exhaust systems, allowing 10 fume hoods to reduce exhaust airflow and even be turned off when not in operation. The building control systems were also modified so that the airflow supply is coordinated with the exhaust.

    Occupancy sensors, which automatically turn off lights and shut down the air handling and air conditioning system when the space is not occupied, were also added. To ensure the changes would not affect overall safety in the labs, an assessment was made to determine a high and low point temperature for optimal chemical storage. At the conclusion of a lab class, chemicals are moved from the fume hoods to storage cabinets, which typically require a much lower exhaust rate, thus allowing the exhaust system to be turned off. In conjunction with the retrocommissioning, a chemical inventory was conducted, and old or unused chemicals were evaluated and removed via the Division of Research Safety Waste collection.

    “Our operations are streamlined and more efficient with a higher level of chemical safety thanks to the retrocommissioning projects completed,” Robards said.

    The retrocommissioning updates are expected to yield an annual savings of approximately $40K per year.

  • Summer Construction Education Program

    Jul 27, 2015

    Summer Construction Education Program

    Most students attend summer school only if they have to, but in the case of students involved with the Summer Construction Education Program, the students want to.

    Run by the Education Employment System #330, located at Parkland College, the Summer Construction Education Program is a five-week program which aims to engage students in developing career interests and skills related to the construction industry. The participants, who come from area high schools, have to apply to be part of the five-week course, including getting recommendations. The class is taught by two area high school teachers, but students also learn about career opportunities in construction from those who work in it – Parkland College staff, local unions, and F&S employees when they spend a day at the Physical Plant Services Building.

    Seventeen students from Champaign-Urbana high schools and surrounding high school, visited PPSB in June. This was the third consecutive year students have toured PPSB.

    “Visiting PPSB is kind of a one-stop shop,” said Ken Buenting, F&S assistant superintendent of Building Maintenance, who coordinated the visit. “With 29 Crafts and Trades, F&S has more shops under one roof than anywhere else in town.”

    The students began their day with construction presentations. The remainder of their time was spent visiting with the Elevator shop, the Machine shop, the Sheet Metal shop, the Insulation shop, the Sign shop and the Mill. Employees explained how they got started in their jobs, what training it took, the skills needed for the trade, and what one could expect to make in the trade.

    “College isn’t for everyone, and this program shows the students about the opportunities for hands-on work,” Buenting said. “Some of them were surprised to hear the salaries and that you can make a good living in these careers.”
  • Mills builds custom podium

    Jun 18, 2015

    Mill ISFI PodiumLong-time fireman and Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) instructor John Leonard passed away in January after a battle with cancer, and his co-workers at IFSI wanted to do something to memorialize him. They just didn’t know what.

    Burke and other IFSI staff ultimately decided to have a classroom podium made to honor Leonard, and that’s when they turned to the F&S Mill Shop.

    “They didn’t really know what they wanted. They had all kinds of ideas,” said Mill Foreman Andy Burnette, who built the podium with millworker Brad Ward. “They wanted to memorialize him so that when anyone walked in the room, they would see the podium and think of him.”

    The lectern is adorned with Leonard’s firefighting equipment and tools, including his helmet, flashlight, radio, ax, and badge. Its diamond metal base, reminiscent of a fire truck, was created by the Sheet Metal Shop, and the Paint Shop provided a coat of clear lacquer for the podium.

     “We’ve built lots of podiums all over campus, but never something as unique as this, especially when you know it’s to honor one guy,” Burnett said.

    For his part, Burke said he couldn’t be happier with the way the podium turned out.

    “It’s tremendous,” he said “Those guys are such professionals. There were people over here who had tears in their eyes when they saw how well they made the podium. They are true craftsmen and did a great job.”