Campus HVAC Assessment Summary
After months of challenging work by teams of dedicated employees and contractors, OVCAS is happy to report that the ventilation systems in all UIC buildings are operating well and that, where possible, improvements to building ventilation were completed in accordance with CDC guidance. All UIC buildings and spaces will be ready for the start of the fall semester on Aug. 23.
From the start of the pandemic, OVCAS staff from a variety of functional areas, including Heat, Light and Power; the Environmental Health and Safety Office; Planning, Sustainability and Project Management; and Procurement teamed up with a variety of contractors, consultants and vendors to determine how to keep UIC buildings safe for those learning and working on campus. Executing the HVAC assessment project ultimately involved over 40 different collaborating groups.
The OVCAS team has never had to face a challenge of such large scope coupled with having to be completed in a relatively short period of time. This presented a steep learning curve that had to be navigated by all involved. Breaking the project into parts that could be effectively managed and tracked, establishing clear roles and responsibilities for all collaborators, and developing transparent communication channels were key strategies that contributed to the project’s completion and success.
Outlining the project scope was a particular challenge as CDC guidelines and state requirements evolved throughout the pandemic. To keep pace with these changes, the team had to remain flexible in its approach, data collection, and overall project goals. Scope creep had to be carefully managed and expanded as new discoveries and priorities came to light.
The HVAC assessment team divided the project into five physical sites:
- UIC East
- UIC West
- UIC Law
Communication channels were established for two main groups: UIC (East and West) and Regional Campuses (Peoria, Rockford, UIC Law). Weekly update calls were held with both groups to share progress, plan for the following week, and address any obstacles that might present themselves as the project moved forward, which helped quickly address concerns and keep the project on schedule.
Because the entire country was affected by the pandemic, supply chain issues also presented themselves, causing delays and threatening schedules. Working collaboratively, building engineers and OVCAS trades developed workarounds to ensure that systems were operational and met established COVID-19 guidelines prior to the start of the fall semester.
The assessment and work is now complete. High-level scope of work is as follows:
- 98 buildings at UIC’s Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, and Law School campuses have been assessed
- 513 air handling units and 494 unit ventilators have been assessed
- Air flow in over 4200 individual rooms have been tested and balanced
Ventilation assessment information for specific spaces can be viewed at https://fmweb.uic.edu/FMGeneralPages/Home/VentilationAssessment
OVCAS engineers will continue to monitor system performance and complete preventive maintenance throughout the semester.
It’s important to note that while many UIC employees were able to work remotely for the past 18 months, OVCAS employees, and the HVAC team in particular, have remained on the front lines — even foregoing vacations and other time off — to ensure the safety of the campus community.