Volume 13, Number 16   April 21, 2006

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Chiller project delayed

The University has decided to pause its effort to increase chilling capacity on campus, a decision that should go unnoticed by most people, “as long as we don’t have a very hot and very long summer.”

Paul Becker, associate vice-president of facilities management, said tender costs for the mechanical, electrical and control components of the new chiller being installed on the west side of the heating plant have risen 50-100 per cent over budget, largely due to supply and demand. The equipment necessary to operate the chiller “is either going west to the Tar Sands…or south to New Orleans” to replace components destroyed by last year’s hurricane.

The original budget for the project was $4.5 million, “but the cost is $9 million if we proceeded now.” The most expensive piece of equipment however – the $500,000 chiller itself – was purchased within budget. It will be installed in its final location and the building shell constructed around it. Becker said the University will then re-tender for mechanical, electrical and controls, likely in the fall. The hope is re-tendering will bring “a more competitive and more attractive price.”

Becker explained adding a fourth chiller anticipates the needs of a growing campus, particularly the expanded Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Intervac, and the Academic Health Sciences complex. Although the University wanted the extra cooling on line for this summer, Becker said current capacity should be adequate if it is distributed in a “very strategic way” and if the weather is not too hot.

“I believe we can manage this summer, but we can’t predict the weather.”

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