UMFK completes building renovation

Posted Feb. 04, 2010, at 9:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:34 a.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — The University of Maine at Fort Kent announced Thursday that a $1.4 million renovation project has been completed at Powell Hall, a former dormitory now converted into office space.

UMFK President Richard Cost said the project incorporated numerous energy-savings components that are expected to help achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification for the 45-year-old building.

Electricity for the building will be derived 70 percent from renewable sources.

Cost said the funding for the renovation came from a voter-approved 2007 statewide bond issued for interior and exterior building renovations, improvements and additions at all public university campuses.

“We are very excited about the LEED certification,” he said Thursday afternoon. “At our college, we put a huge emphasis on conservation, and this project illustrates that.”

College officials and the project’s architects, Port City Architecture of Portland, followed a detailed list and went through numerous steps during the 7-month-long renovation to improve Powell Hall’s energy efficiency and sustainability.

Cost said that energy savings were achieved through a number of means during the work at the 1965-era building.

He said that by optimizing the energy performance of the building, Powell Hall was made 14 percent more efficient than a typical office building. A mechanism also helps conserve energy by enabling the building’s heat source to be turned off in the summer.

Additionally, the construction site around Powell Hall is slated to be restored in the spring with a new garden featuring native plantings. The garden was designed with help from the student ecology committee, the Center for Rural Sustainable Development and the campus facilities management office. The restored area will pro-vide a conservation easement of protected open space on the campus.

Lumber from a Masardis lumber mill was used in the renovation.

“At first, we were looking at building a new classroom building,” he said. “We need new classroom space so much more than we need residence hall space. We met with an architect and ultimately decided that we could convert Powell Hall into a modern classroom building.”

The renovated hall features classrooms, a conference room and a writing and language laboratory. Cost said contractors were able to use much of the old wood and brick in the renovation project.

The contractor for the renovation was Devoe General Constructors of Eagle Lake.

“The wood, which has been there since the 1960s, looked great,” Cost said. “We used a good deal of that old wood and did the same with the brickwork that was on the outside of the building. We saved enough of the bricks so that we did not have to buy any new bricks.”

He added that other areas of energy efficiency or sustainability achieved during renovation included a 30 percent reduction in water usage, reuse of all load-bearing walls in the building, a 10 percent use of locally harvested or salvaged materials, 24 percent of all materials used in the construction have recycled content, and a 50 percent reduction in waste diverted to landfills.

According to Cost, UMFK has submitted an application to the U.S. Green Building Council seeking Gold-level LEED certification. The actual certification level it receives will be based on the number of points awarded and the successful completion of all prerequisites.

LEED certification is recognized as the standard for measuring a building’s sustainability. The achievement of LEED certification is the best way to demonstrate that a building project truly is “green.”

Cost said the college would hold a formal opening ceremony for Powell Hall next month.

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