Delivering district energy or utility infrastructure renovations on a campus without disturbing day-to-day activities is a challenging construction endeavor that needs careful attention. Students and their families dedicate valuable time and significant resources to attend a university. Having an active construction site on campus should not be an additional challenge for students and faculty. Managing a safe and compact construction site requires attention to many important project and safety details that are specific to the location of the work being performed. It is the general contractors responsibility to maintain the balance of construction productivity with the needs of the university to operate its campus as usual.
MITIGATING SYSTEM OUTAGES
One of the most critical aspects of campus utility construction projects is the prevention of system outages. There is tremendous value at the pre-construction and project planning stage to realize the overall effect of a system shutdown. Whether the utility is gas, steam, or electric; attention must be paid to mitigate any negative effects an outage would have on the students and faculty on campus. Preventative strategies must be planned early on in construction to avoid any pitfalls.
The project team must assess the needs of the end users and the impact that a shutdown will have on them. Some end users may be able to handle an extended shutdown without much discomfort while others will be unable to accept even a momentary shutdown. Solutions for each case need to be vetted early on and may include utilizing a bypass like the Harvard Northwest Lab Project or planning a shutdown during a favorable season to take advantage of weather conditions.
MANAGING PEDESTRIAN ACCESSIBILITY IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES
The campus environment brings complexities and considerations that many construction projects do not typically deal with. General contractors must take the initiative of going above and beyond to ensure that campus life goes uninterrupted and that students and faculty can go about their normal activities, unimpeded. When working in this environment, the preservation of safety on campus is as important as the quality of work being performed. Utility construction projects within a campus are rarely restricted to a single isolated street address. Utility construction sites can be campus wide efforts such as the utility infrastructure upgrade project at Brown University. Great care must be taken to maintain the pedestrian traffic routes on campus for students and faculty. General contractors must make special accommodations to maintain safe and direct walkways during excavation work so that pedestrians on campus can travel to their destinations in a timely and unobstructed manner.
Campus utility and district energy construction is often scheduled during the summer months while the majority of students are on leave between semesters. While the student population is reduced, there are still plenty of pedestrians, summer school residents, tours, and visitors on campus. The summer users are typically less familiar with the campus than full time students and staff, which makes the need for clear accessibility even more important. If accessibility cannot be managed due to the project scope or location, work schedules will often be accelerated to accommodate the need for pedestrian access.
COMPLETING THE PROJECT
The most important and anticipated step of a utility project on campus is the project completion. When the site restoration begins, all those within view of the construction see the light at the end of the tunnel. Special care and preparation needs to take place to finish the work successfully and as promised to building owners.
It is very important that the complete site restoration be carefully planned so that it is completed within the project schedule. Walkways and common areas must be cleared and restored to original or new condition, so that when the student body arrives for the new semester, campus life can continue as if the contractors were never there.
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