Work on SAU buildings includes green updates

Jim Hannon, physical plant director at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, checks on the progress of three different kinds of grasses the school is growing in test plots.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — Throughout the summer, the physical plant department at St. Ambrose University worked or experimented with a variety of “green” projects, along with other work.

Jim Hannon, physical plant director, said the big project on campus this summer was putting new roofs on Ambrose and Hayes halls. But what makes these roofs different is their white color.

“They carry on the commitment to be green. These roofs are reflective. They direct urban heat away from the buildings. Black (roofs) soak in heat. This reflects it. It will be easier to cool these two buildings,” Hannon said.

Continuing with the “green kick,” Hannon said the department is experimenting with different grasses near Lewis Hall.  On the south side of the hall, workers removed sod and replanted it in other areas on campus. In the sections where sod was cut out, one section has salt-tolerant grass growing, one has a slow-growing grass and the other has a “no mow” grass.


The salt-tolerant grass is being looked at because there are a number of sidewalks on campus and during the winter salt is spread to keep the walks passable. But salt kills off the bordering grass. Next summer, Hannon will evaluate how the salt-tolerant grass withstood the winter. If it did well, he may spread seeds along grass that lines the sidewalks and parking lots.

The slow-growing grass generally needs to be mowed only four or five times in a year. “It requires less labor and fuel costs.” This summer the campus has been mowed once or even twice a week.

The no-mow grass reaches a certain height and then stops growing. Hannon said this particular variety does not turn brown in the winter.

“We’ll see how all these work.”

Another “green” measure involves the physical plant’s vehicles, which now use 100 percent biodiesel fuel with oil recycled from the university’s kitchen. “We convert the grease to a biodiesel,” he said.

In other projects around campus:

• The former Catich print room in the Galvin Fine Arts building was upgraded in size, plumbing, security and a new ventilation system.

• The university purchased more homes in the area, which were readied for students this school year. “We were short of bed space this year,” Hannon said. Some lounges were converted into temporary housing until the school saw how many resident students showed up for the start of the academic year. St. Ambrose also is leasing space from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

• The Center of Communication and Social Development, across from Holy Family Parish in Davenport is open for classes. The parking lot at the corner of Marquette and Locust streets was being finished for that department’s use.

• Construction is moving along on the health sciences building located at Genesis Medical Center’s west campus. It is expected to open in 2010.

• Routine maintenance in the dorms, classrooms and offices also has been completed.

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