Desk Notes: Facilities has had a busy summer

Friday, October 17, 2014

Welcome back to all! Over the past several months I have visited most of the colleges and have had the opportunity to meet department chairs and staff to hear their concerns and suggestions. Some suggestions have been catalysts for quick changes while others will take longer to implement. Our Customer Service Desk (aka Work Control) really tried to focus on improving communications to campus this summer, which I hope minimized the inconveniences you experienced. I know we can always do better, so please continue to let us know how we’re doing. Please consider submitting feedback on our service response through the survey that is sent out following completion of all service requests.

As BFA goes through its strategic planning process this Fall, we will again be visiting you to hear what we do well and what we need to improve on. Your input will help FM focus on your needs and help me make sure I direct budgets and resources where they are most needed.

As always, if there is some topic about which you have questions, please let us know.

-John Furman, Director of Facilities Management
-Rick Benner, Director of Facilities Development & Capital Budget

Focus on on Custodial Services

A common question that comes our way is “Why don’t they empty my trash?” Trash and recycling for most offices on campus is self-service when it comes to separating generated waste and emptying your personal office trash bin. This model arises from limited staff as well as initiatives to reduce campus waste. By bringing your waste to the central collection stations down the hall from your office, you have a more personal stake in recycling efforts, which helps Western reach our sustainability goals.

Another common question is “What services should I expect from the custodians?” Facilities Management’s web site contains very detailed information on which services to expect in every academic building, as well as information on how we manage our staff time so as to ensure the highest priority items are always cleaned. Our spaces are coded RED, BLUE, GREEN, and ORANGE. In general, we have enough staff time to complete all priorities, but any hiccups we encounter (i.e. absenteeism or unusually soiled spaces) reduce or eliminate our adherence to the ORANGE and GREEN priorities.

If you need additional information on custodial services, please visit our web link – Services Provided - to find the detailed cleaning services provided for each room or feel free to contact Don Bakkensen, at 360-650-3932.

Stormwater Management at WWU

According to the State Department of Ecology, “Rain-caused polluted runoff – including storm water – is the state's biggest urban water quality threat. It carries millions of pounds of toxic contaminants into Puget Sound and other Washington waters each year.” Take a look at a storm drain inlet the next time you are walking the campus – it’s no accident that you see those labels telling you the drain leads to the bay!

With that as a backdrop, everyone on campus has the opportunity to reduce Western’s impact on this particular pollution source. I encourage you to think twice before dropping litter on the ground – look for the nearest recycling or trash container and use it! If you bring a car to campus, please make sure it’s in good working condition and isn’t dripping oil. Similarly, if you live on campus with a personal vehicle, maintenance and repair should be done at an authorized commercial location and NOT on campus.

You can find lots more information about Western’s stormwater management program online.

Graffitti Update

At the risk of stirring the pot, I’d like to thank campus for its care and stewardship of our beautiful campus. Although we continue to have frequent incidents of graffiti vandalism, the volume and seriousness of the damage may be on a downward trend. Last year our Paint Shop spent just over 300 hours repairing and removing graffiti damage compared to well over 400 hours for each of the last several years. I chalk that decrease up to increased student awareness and Western pride!

Just in case you do happen to come across graffiti, please contact the Customer Service desk to report the “location” and any other information that will help FM find the graffiti as quick as possible.

  • Customer Service Desk: or 360-650-3420
  • If you catch someone in the act, please contact UPD!: 360-650-3555 or

Public Works Projects


Facilities Design & Capital Budget had a very busy summer. Some of the more visible and complex projects are mentioned below, but please visit their web link for more information.

Nash Renovation: First phase occurred this summer; second and final phase will take place next summer. Phase 1 included seismic, civil, wheelchair lift, fire alarm, and fire suppression installations and architectural work in student rooms and public areas.

Wilson Library, Parks Hall, and Fine Arts Roof Replacements: 

  • Wilson Library – Replaced clay tile roofing on the portion of the library built in 1927 and installed thermal insulation in the attic space below the new clay tile roofing.
  • Fine Arts – Replaced roofing and insulation above the Fine Arts Gallery and Penthouse as well as some flashings and brick wall sealing.
  • Parks Hall – Replaced roofing and insulation at the north entry foyer and added overflow scupper.

Performing Arts Center Exterior Renewal: The intent of the project was to eliminate long standing water intrusion issues on this aging building. The scope included cleaning, sealing, & repair of stucco, brick, and concrete including graffiti removal. New windows were installed in the south addition, and selected roof repairs were made including gutters, downspouts, plumbing, and piping.

Buchanan Towers Mechanical Room Upgrades: This project included the removal and replacement of existing mechanical equipment. Upgrades included a new heating water system, relocation of one existing steam domestic water heater and installation of redundant electric domestic water heaters.

North Campus Utility Upgrade: This project is actually still under construction, scheduled to be complete December 2014. This project upgraded the existing north campus 4,160 volt electrical distribution system to a more energy efficient and modern 12,470 volt system. All existent radial feeds to campus buildings were eliminated, and a fully looped electrical distribution grid was established. In addition, aging emergency generators were replaced in Ross Engineering Technology, Old Main, Fraser Hall, & Humanities.

Campus Steam Repairs: Two different projects were finished this summer; contractors replaced steam and condensate lines east of Fraser Hall and in the Ridgeway complex.

Facilities Information System

Under the Banner Initiative, we have been working to improve our facilities information system, which includes integrating FM’s computerized maintenance management system with space management, Banner financials, and Human Resource data. What originally started as a reimplementation project has morphed into a full-fledged solicitation to replace FAMIS entirely. Late last spring, FAMIS announced that starting in 2017, it will no longer upgrade or enhance the software. Rather than invest time and resources into an obsolete application, we have changed our focus to identify what functionality we require in our system, with the intent to purchase a new application sometime next summer. This is a major project undertaking which will touch nearly everyone on campus.

We are forming cross-functional teams, which include representatives from across campus, to ensure your needs are met as well as those of FM. Those teams will participate in Business Process Analyses and needs assessments with the result being a request for proposal for a new software solution sometime in March 2015.

If you have any questions about any of these areas, please reach out to the Project Managers for these efforts, Bill Managan (360-650-2077) and Deanna Reynolds (360-650-4010).

Closing Thoughts

If there is some topic or project you would like to see addressed in these notes, please let me know. If you are interested in receiving these notes personally rather than through Western Today, please email me ( and I’ll place you on the distribution list.

This past summer, contractors replaced steam and condensate lines in the Ridgeway complex. Photo by Paul Grzelak / WWU Communications and Marketing intern