EMU regents approve $13.8 million capital budget that helps set stage for completion of Science Complex

EMU regents approve $13.8 million capital budget that helps set stage for completion of Science Complex

YPSILANTI – The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents today (Feb. 7, 2017) approved a $13.8 million capital budget for 2017-2018 that includes investment for improvements to academic facilities in Mark Jefferson Hall and Strong Hall that will help set the stage for completion of the University’s largest building project ever, the Science Complex.

The budget, approved at the board’s regular meeting, reflects the University’s continued emphasis on improving academic, STEM and student-related facilities, in upgrading classroom technology, and in continued enhancements in campus safety and security.

Upgrades in academic facilities

 The FY18 capital plan provides for $3.2 million in funding of upgrades in academic facilities. Those improvements include $1.9 million for buildouts in Mark Jefferson for the newly introduced neuroscience and fermentation science programs along with $660,000 for abatement and other improvements in faculty offices in Strong Hall.

These efforts help clear the way for the overall renovation of Strong Hall, the third and final stage of EMU’s Science Complex, which stands as the centerpiece of the University’s effort to educate students in STEM disciplines.  

Renovation of Strong Hall: Final phase of Science Complex.

Last year, the state of Michigan approved capital funds to help pay for the renovation of Strong Hall. The building, located in the middle of campus, was built in 1957 and has not received any significant overall improvements since its construction. Strong Hall, which is connected to the new Science Complex addition (completed in 2010) and recently renovated Mark Jefferson Hall (2012), is the third and final phase of Science complex.

The building currently houses key science programs, including the Mars Computer Weather Simulation Lab, the Plasma Physics Lab, the Laser Physics Lab, the Modern Optics Lab, Environmental Sciences, and the departments of astronomy and physics and geology and geography. It is a crucial academic facility on Eastern’s campus; more than 25 percent of the University’s STEM lab classrooms are in the building.

Renovations in Quirk Theatre, Wise Residence Hall

Along with Strong Hall work, the FY18 capital plan includes $400,000 for renovations in Quirk Theatre while housing improvements include $2.8 million for the ongoing Wise Residence Hall project, set for completion in FY20 at a total cost of $13.6 million.

More than $2.6 million is earmarked for technology improvements, including $1 million for networks and servers, $870,000 for classroom technology and more than $450,000 for Phase 4 of the continuing campus wireless project.

The FY18 capital budget also includes more than $1 million for safety and security enhancements. The coming year will see installation of an additional 50 cameras, adding to the 800 already on campus, along with various improvements related to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Other planned capital investment for the next fiscal year includes $1 million for parking improvements, $200,000 for renovations in Pease Auditorium and $890,000 for improvements to lighting in Rynearson Stadium, along with crucial concrete repairs in that facility.

Major energy conservation measures

The FY18 capital plan dovetails with this year’s $60.6 million capital budget. That plan allocated the EMU funds for Strong Hall, along with several ongoing projects that reflect EMU’s commitment to promote energy savings. Those efforts include the University’s ongoing Energy Conservation Measures project and two other major supplemental capital projects that together will reduce annual costs by $2.6 million:

The Strong Hall project will involve renovation of the entire 80,713 square feet structure, including modernizing classrooms and labs, lecture halls, student commons areas and faculty offices, along with creating flexible use spaces for research and instruction and updating of architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical systems. Work is set to begin this year.

The estimated cost to renovate Strong Hall is $39.5 million. At a funding mix of 75 percent state and 25 percent University, Eastern's cost share is about $10 million.

Phase 2 of Eastern Michigan’s energy conservation project will replace outdated energy-related technologies with more energy-efficient systems at a cost of $3.4 million. The project also includes upgraded plumbing, building controls, select lighting and other systems for 33 campus buildings.

Upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of the 2017 fiscal year, with a projected annual energy savings of more than $195,000. The measures will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions at an annual savings equivalent to removing more than 900 cars from roadways.

The Co-Gen (co-generation) project, which, at a cost of $19.6 million, replaces a 29-year-old co-generation unit that ceased operations in April 2016. Co-generation is a combined heat and power system that uses natural gas to simultaneously produce electricity and steam heat for the campus. The new system will take approximately 18 months to build and install, and is scheduled to open in spring 2018. It will generate approximately 98 percent of the heat and 93 percent of the electricity to campus compared to the previous unit, which supplied only about 50 percent of electricity and heat. The new co-generator will result in an annual reduction of 32,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and100 tons of nitrogen oxides (Nox) emissions.

The project will achieve an annual net savings of more than $2.4 million.  Funding will be provided, all or in part, by bond proceeds or other short-term financing sources.

The Loop 1 project replaces a 30-year-old electrical distribution grid, at a cost of $7.5 million, because of the grid’s age and condition. The project will bring primary electrical service to 15 campus buildings, including Strong, King, Marshall and Roosevelt halls. The multi-year project will be phased in with significant engineering work. Funding will come from University resources.

The two recent capital budgets follow a period of unprecedented capital investment at Eastern. The five years from fiscal 2008-09 through 2013-14 included capital spending of more than $220 million. Approximately two-thirds of the spending was invested in academic facility enhancements, including the Science Complex addition/renovation and the renovation of the Pray Harrold classroom building.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

February 07, 2017

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom