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Sunday, January 23, 2022

UW System to get $69 million for renovation projects throughout state

The State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved a $69 million package for UW-System building renovation projects, including $12.2 million in funding for UW-Madison building projects Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday.  

According to the Wisconsin Building Commission’s meeting materials, the $12.2 million will go towards minor facilities projects, including fire alarm and smoke detection systems and steam distribution pits. 

Nearly half of the approved package — $6 million — will go toward replacing fire alarms and smoke detection systems in eight campus buildings. The new fire alarm panels will be connected to a centralized reporting system in the campus security office to “provide enhanced occupant life-safety and greater security,” according to meeting minutes. 

“Ensuring our state’s public infrastructure is strong and ready to carry our communities and campuses into the future is critically important,” Evers said in a press release about the package. “From new projects at our state parks, to the development of the new state office building in Milwaukee, to sustainable, renewable energy sources at UW-Platteville, we are investing in Wisconsin’s future.”

Old systems will remain in buildings receiving replacements until new ones are installed, tested and approved. 

The current fire alarm and smoke detection systems are more than 20 years old, and according to meeting materials they no longer have vendor support or replacement parts available.

Fire alarms with visual signals for people with disabilities will also be installed in public areas to meet the newly updated Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, according to the Cap Times. These fire alarms omit a strobe light for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  

UW-Madison will use the other $6 million for the renovation of steam distribution pits.

Meeting materials state that the pits, installed in the 1960s, have “been compromised, allowing wet steam to be distributed to surrounding buildings.”

Other building projects accounted for in the $69 million include about $10 million in renovations for music and fine arts classrooms at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Eau Claire. 

The Wisconsin Building Commission will allocate another $3.4 million to UW-Platteville for a solar project that will save $217,000 annually and offset electricity by 17%, according to a news release.    

Evers will deliver his 2021-2023 budget address on Tuesday, which includes a request from the UW System for a separate revenue fund for capital renovation projects.  

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