University efforts to improve on-campus living with renovations to Davis that begin in May could affect students’ upcoming registration for housing, according to a Residence Life and Housing timeline.
The plan is for much of the construction to take place throughout this summer, will leave 15 suites and halls in Davis unusable until January. This will close up 116 beds normally available to students.
The cause for this, according to Director of Housing Frank Shelton, is that Residence Life and Housing will only have from the first week of May to the first week of August to work while students are away.
“It’s a one-year to a year-and-a-half project that’s being condensed,” Shelton said. “We do not have enough days in the summer.”
The university hopes that with the Davis project, the short term complications involved with housing registration this year will pay off in the long run after all construction is complete. The renovated Davis hall will be similar to Kitchin and Poteat, which were completed in 2016 and received well by students.
Lars Keeley, a junior, lived in Poteat prior to renovation in his sophomore year.
“The tile was ugly,” Keely said. “It smelled like an old dorm.”
He’s since spent the last year in the updated Kitchin Hall.
“The difference now is huge,” Keeley said about his time this year in Kitchin.
That difference, according to Residence Life and Housing, is well worth the short term inconvenience resulting from the construction.
The ongoing renovation project is the largest of its kind in the Hearn Plaza dormitories since their completion in 1955. The university intends to use summer breaks to update each Hearn Plaza building over a span of several years.
The overall standard of living of Davis is expected to improve in a similar fashion to Kitchin. Construction workers this summer will strip away the tile in favor of hard wood floors and the anticipated result is a fresh, modern looking living space for students.
However, this will put additional stress on an already cumbersome housing registration process.
When asked about his experience with registering for housing, Keeley aired frustrations about the process.
“The time you get to register plays a huge role in where you end up living,” he said.
With fewer spots in the center of campus, students will have added difficulty finding rooms on Hearn Plaza this April.
In addition to the quality of life changes, the planned renovations should also reduce the university’s carbon footprint. Davis will have improved insulation, as well as smarter lights systems and toilets that use less than half the amount of water currently used by the facilities today, according to Shelton.
Such changes to the updated buildings on Hearn Plaza have yielded a significant reduction in electricity usage for Kitchin residents since completion, according to the Office of Sustainability.
According to Dedee Johnston, the university’s chief sustainability officer, the most impactful change in renovated buildings in terms of energy consumption has been improved retention of heating and air conditioning through better insulation.
As an effort to spread awareness of the university’s carbon footprint, the energy usage of all buildings has been measured and recorded by the Office of Sustainability through the Building Dashboard application, which is accessible to students throughout campus on touch screens in central locations. With these screens, students are able to track their energy and water consumption at any time.
The renovation efforts will bring the older buildings on campus closer in sustainability to newer dormitory halls like South, Magnolia, Dogwood and others, which have been recognized for meeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards.
In addition to shutting over 100 students out of the western side of Davis, the renovations will also close the lounge spaces occupied by Lambda Chi Alpha and Theta Chi fraternites. Residence Life and Housing has offered these organizations access to temporary lounge spaces for use during the renovation process.
With a projected completion in January, it’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to complete the full renovation to Davis. Students next semester will have to endure some temporary difficulty in order to benefit from living in a nicer, more sustainable space.