CSC Team Award

Plumbing Shop keeps water hot and energy costs down

Representing the plumbing team at the awards were (left and right) Jim Baldwin and Carl Hill.

Thanks to BGSU Plumbing Shop classified employees, the University’s utility budget did not go up in steam last year, and campus maintained its heat and hot water throughout the bitterly cold winter.

In recognition of their hard work and initiative, Plumbing Shop employees Jim Baldwin, Perry Fletcher, Carl Hill, Tom Marsh, Brian Nowakowski, and Alan Nekoranec received the 2015 Team Award at the Classified Staff Council spring reception.

The team will share a $1,500 award and their names will be displayed on a commemorative plaque in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

The University has saved more than $1.5 million the last few years as the result of an audit of campus steam traps the team undertook in 2008-09. According to nominator Patrick Hoehn, building maintenance supervisor, steam traps can fail two ways. They either close down and do not permit steam to come through, in which case the building becomes cold and the situation is reported and fixed. The second, more serious way, is that they remain open and permit steam to escape continuously, which often goes unnoticed. Among other problems this causes, it drives up energy costs significantly, Hoehn said.

Last year the plumbers expanded the initial test of 303 traps, which had yielded savings of more than $234,000, and tested all 1,400 the traps on campus. Repairing and replacing the broken ones netted the $1.5 million in energy savings.

In addition to testing steam traps, this past winter the biggest challenge was keeping the water lines from freezing and repairing ones that had split, Hoehn said.  The team often worked into the night, not going home until all issues were resolved. In one three-day stretch alone they repaired or replaced 12 pipes.

“Their dedication to making sure their work is completed before leaving makes for a better environment for the students and staff,” Hoehn said, “so they can concentrate on studying or doing their jobs and not have to worry about no hot water for showers or no heat in their rooms.”

The Plumbing Shop is always looking for ways to do things more quickly and efficiently, Hoehn said. To improve their ability to deal with leaks and splits in pipes, they have adapted new technology that allows repairs to made faster and even with water remaining in the pipe.

The classified staff members in the Plumbing Shop work together to solve problems and perform their daily tasks, Hoehn said. They maintain a professional attitude when interacting with faculty, staff and students to keep them apprised of situations, and collaborate with employees in the other trades on campus to keep things running smoothly — so smoothly that sometimes no one is even aware of a problem because it has been remedied during a night shift.