FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington is making good use of the summer months with a number of projects that focus on cost savings, sustainability and meeting residential student needs.
“These campus upgrades are an important investment in Farmington’s future. They will help the University be more cost effective and attractive to today’s students while also continuing in our commitment to being a good steward for our environment,” said Joseph McDonnell, UMF president.
UMF has entered into a contract with Trane, a leader in energy solutions, and its Energy Savings Performance program to increase the energy efficiency of campus facilities and lower campus operating costs.
The 18-month, $11 million energy project is in keeping with UMF’s commitment to environmental sustainability and energy efficiency and is being financed and paid back with energy savings and rebates generated by a series of sustainability-focused campus upgrades.
Those upgrades will help the University achieve a 97 percent free-from-fossil-fuel target and are estimated to save the University $400,000 every year beginning in 2024.
The planned upgrades include installing high-efficiency heat pumps, lighting, heating control systems and plumbing. Rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units will also be upgraded. Building envelopes — the physical materials that separate the internal and external building environments — are also being upgraded to improve their efficiency.
In addition, a second biomass boiler will be added to the UMF Biomass Plant to heat campus hot water during the warmer months in late spring, summer and early fall. This boiler will supplement Farmington’s current biomass boiler that provides heat to buildings throughout campus.
UMF’s biomass plant began operation in 2016. It replaced 95 percent of the heating oil the University previously needed and reduced carbon emissions by at least 3,000 tons a year. Both units will continue to use locally sourced Maine wood chips in support of the local economy.
Additional significant campus improvements will include the renovation of UMF Mallett and Purington, two of Farmington’s historical and much-loved residence halls. The project will bring these facilities into compliance with the federal American with Disabilities Act and better meet residential student needs.
Renovations will include extensive upgrades to electric service, plumbing and bathrooms. Multi-user rest rooms will be transformed to state-of-the-art single-user facilities. CHA, Consulting, Inc., a Portland-based company, is providing the design and construction for the renovation.
Funding for this year-long, $5.4 million residence hall project was obtained through the public infrastructure investment secured by UMS with the support of Gov. Mills and the Maine Legislature
“Our thanks to Governor Mills, the Maine Legislature and the University of Maine System for their continued support and to our facility staff who are working hard to make this all possible,” said McDonnell.
Other summer campus improvements will include the addition of a nursing SIM lab to support the collaborative UMF/UMA Nursing program, updated exterior siding and lighting for the UMF Fitness & Recreation Center and ongoing ADA improvements.