Canadian Consulting Engineer

Occupants complain about heat in new UBC building

Complaints over temperatures and air quality in a two-year old building at the University of British Columbia hit m...

October 15, 2007   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Complaints over temperatures and air quality in a two-year old building at the University of British Columbia hit media reports at the beginning of October.
WorkSafeBC was called in after the occupants — staff with the faculty of medicine — had complained repeatedly about temperatures being too high — reported hitting 33-35 degree C range on some days — in the David Strangway Building. The occupants also complained about smells from a ground floor restaurant being vented into their offices, and some said they were suffering from headaches and dizziness.
Robert Brown, vice president with UBC Properties Trust, the university’s property development arm, told CCE that the temperature problem only affected a small area of the 100,000-sq.ft. facility. He said the building was “no worse” than any other, and that the problems were simply the kind of deficiencies that have to be ironed out in any facility in its opening years. He says the idea that this is a “sick building” raises a huge flag that is not warranted. There is no report of mould, and reports of high C02 levels were not the case when the university conducted air monitoring.
However, Brown says the UBC Properties Trust is working with the original engineers and contractors to fix certain problems. He says they are resizing some of the equipment, and they are moving exhaust ducts from the restaurant further away from fresh air intakes to resolve the food odour issue.
Ironically the David Strangway building is one of the few new buildings on the UBC campus to have air-conditioning and no operable windows. Brown says, if it did have operable windows they probably wouldn’t be facing compalints. However, they chose to have air conditioning and a closed facade in the Strangway building because in other laboratory buildings where they had selected to have operable windows they had found it very difficult to balance the heating/cooling loads.


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