The University of Maine at Presque Isle celebrated the completion of its $2.3 million renovation project at Pullen Hall – which included the installation of solar panels on the roof, a biomass boiler in the basement, and many updates and energy efficiencies in between – with an official Rededication Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting at Noon on Thursday, Oct. 27 in the Pullen Art Gallery.
The event provided community members with their first opportunity to view the renovation work done at Pullen Hall, which houses three floors of traditional classrooms, modern “smart classrooms,” and the University’s spacious art room and adjoining gallery. Construction crews outfitted the building with new floors, windows, ceilings, insulation, exterior facades, entrance doors, and updated heating and ventilation systems.
North Peak Architecture of Presque Isle completed the architectural work and A&L Construction of Presque Isle served as the general contractor on the renovation project, which also included the installation of energy saving lights with motion sensor technology; a new heating system including heat pump technology; improved ADA accessibility, a new electrical system; 90 solar photovoltaic panels on the roof, which are generating some of the electricity needed for Pullen operations; and a new biomass boiler that replaced the two original oil-fired boilers, which were more than 40 years old.
The renovations were the first significant improvements Pullen Hall has received since it was built in 1969. The 19,500-square-foot facility serves as one of the University’s two major classroom buildings. A similar renovation project was completed in 2008 to the adjoining classroom building, Folsom Hall.
“These updated spaces and renewable energy systems are helping to reduce Pullen Hall’s carbon footprint and are providing vastly improved educational facilities for our students and faculty,” UMPI President Don Zillman said. “We are so pleased to be rededicating this space and bringing to a close the second of two major building projects over the course of three years to significantly update UMPI’s major classroom building complex.”
President Zillman led the afternoon’s ceremony, which included greetings from Sam Collins on behalf of the University of Maine System’s Board of Trustees; sentiments from Maine’s Congressional Delegation delivered by office representatives; project history and details by Charles Bonin, Vice President for Administration and Finance; and details on the solar and biomass energy projects by UMPI faculty member Dave Putnam and Rob Clark of the U.S. Forest Service – Northeastern Area.
Putnam and Clark discussed some of the funding that UMPI received for the Pullen Hall renovation efforts; about three-quarters of the project cost was covered through external funding sources. The University received a $750,000 Department of Conservation Maine Forest Service wood-to-energy grant for both the new biomass boiler system and the changeover of the distribution system in Pullen Hall from steam to hot water.
The University also received $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which funded the solar panel installation, electrical components, the distribution system and data collection efforts. An automated weather station is being set up to collect information on solar radiation levels and provide needed baseline data for the future use of solar energy. This information will be utilized by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
The third and final source of funding for the Pullen renovation project was $475,000 in state bond money. This funding, from a 2008 statewide ballot for a variety of public building construction projects, received support from 55 percent of County voters. The balance of the project cost was covered through internal funds.
Following remarks by Putnam and Clark as well as recognition of architect Mark Carter and general contractor Rick Nadeau, the event ended with an official ribbon cutting ceremony in which President Zillman declared the Folsom Hall renovation work officially completed and ready for many more years of campus and community use. After the ceremony, campus and community members were able to enjoy refreshments and building tours that offered a unique opportunity to view the solar panels and biomass boiler up close.