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Old HVAC Units, Poor IAQ, Budget Woes Create Problems for University
July 26, 2021 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
The COVID-19 pandemic forced facility managers all over the country to address the air quality in their institutional and commercial facilities. Most FMs were ready to embrace upgrades head-on, though sometimes the funding wasn’t always readily available to do so at the necessary levels.
Such is the case at the University of South Florida in Tampa, which had to prioritize the condition of more than 600 various HVAC units across campus, and then decide which units would be addressed, according to The Oracle, the school’s student newspaper.
The evaluation of the units, which started when the pandemic began in March 2020, revealed that 76 units needed replacing. The units consisted of the air-handling, conditioning and filtering variety across the university’s campuses.
But as is often the case, funding has emerged as a real issue. A lack of money coming in from the state’s deferred maintenance program -- Florida hasn’t funded the division since 2019 -- has slowed USF’s efforts.
A university facilities official estimates that almost $45 million in funding is necessary to upgrade the school’s HVAC systems. The lack of funding means that only the worst units throughout the system are being replaced.
Making the experience all the more difficult for facilities officials is the amount of funding that the school has collected due to coronavirus aid but hasn’t been directed toward the HVAC projects. Almost $200 million has been distributed in one form or another the past year.
Dave Lubach is the managing editor, Facility Market.