NSCC continues green renovations

Students, staff soldier on through 'noise and dust'

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Michael Chapman, manager of infrastructure and facilities for NSCC, enjoys the breeze from the new “living wall” at the Institute of Technology campus in Halifax. (Photo: Tim Vanderkooi)

A cool breeze blows through a hallway at the Nova Scotia Community College Institute of Technology.

Michael Chapman, the college's manager of infrastructure and facilities, says it's coming from the recently constructed "living wall." The wall is covered with plants and has several vents sucking stale air from the interior and recycling it through the plants, producing cleaner air.

It's just one new addition of the first phase of a five-year renovation project at the campus.

"The sentiment here is short-term pain, long-term gain," says Chapman. "It doesn't take long for students and faculty to walk past this wall and think it's fantastic."

However, the 1,650 students at the Institute of Technology might find these short-term pains a little sharper during the next couple of years.

That's because construction at the campus has moved completely indoors after nearly 16 months of outdoor and indoor renovations.

Chapman says it will be difficult to reduce disruption, but the college has been working closely with students to accommodate them.

"You have to do all you can to minimize noise and dust," says Chapman. "You have to give everybody a say in what's happening."

The project is updating the 47-year-old campus to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Before the project, the building had leaky walls that lost a lot of heat.

New learning from old rubble

Students have dealt with some major disruption since the project started in June 2009. The main lobby was under construction from January until the start of the fall semester.

A library and a curtain wall of windows wrapping around the entire lobby made the campus's main entrance inaccessible, but the campus is taking a creative approach to the inconveniences.

For instance, Chapman says students in the college's Occupational Health and Safety Program are being offered a learning opportunity. They will be able to get hands-on experience with construction safety plans and on-site safety when the demolition begins.

"We talked with the class beforehand about how we could accommodate them and we thought this was a great alternative to learn about construction safety," says Chapman.

Rawdon Henderson, president of the NSCC IT Campus Student Association, says he hasn't heard complaints from the students so far and doesn't expect them in the future.

The college "has been really accommodating so far," he says. "There are always going to be inconveniences with construction but the construction crews here have given us the space we need and make us feel comfortable."

The next phase of the construction involves interior demolition to make room for more offices.

Administration workers will move into the campus, while more students in trades head to a new building at the college's waterfront campus in Dartmouth.

The provincial and federal governments are providing the campus with $2.75 million each as part of the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, which is helping update the infrastructure of post-secondary schools across Canada.

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