With the majority of students home for the summer, Virginia Tech Housing Services has undertaken a variety of improvements and renovations in its residence halls aimed at increasing comfort and safety for students, while decreasing overall environmental impact.

While much of the work being done is routine maintenance and repairs, there is also a renewed focus on conserving water and energy in buildings to help create a more sustainable campus.

Projects for this year, some of which began as early as April, are scheduled to be completed by mid-August to ensure that they do not overlap with move-in and the start of the semester.

Among the major improvements planned are new elevators for Lee Hall, new contemporary lounge furniture for many of the residence halls, security screens for the first-floor windows on all buildings, and bathroom renovations for Lee and Pritchard Halls.

The bathroom renovations will include water-saving, low-flow fixtures with touchless flush sensors, an improvement that should not only cut down on the spread of germs, but help save an estimated 1 million gallons of water per year. In addition, the first-floor male-use bathroom of Monteith Hall will undergo renovation to convert it to an ADA-approved female-use bathroom.

The scheduled improvements also include a variety of less conspicuous, but necessary projects, such as new mattresses in Cochrane Hall, the Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown, West Eggleston Hall, Johnson Hall, and Thomas Hall; air conditioner filter changes in Donaldson Brown, Harper Hall, New Residence Hall East, Payne Hall, and Peddrew-Yates Hall; faucet replacements in Peddrew-Yates that will convert the fixtures from a single-handle model to a more reliable two-handle model; new durable laminated wood grain doors in Vawter Hall; and two new elevator cameras in Lee.

“It’s about creating a more comfortable environment for the students to live in,” said Tim Gift, the associate director for facilities management for Student Programs. “The regular maintenance and upgrades we plan really help the residence halls feel less sterile and more like a home.”

Housing Services, a department in the Division of Student Affairs, is also improving the quality of student life on campus by renovating Ambler Johnston Hall, a process which will take part in two phases between 2009 and 2012. Renovations will include the addition of a three-story central atrium and amenities requested by students, including a fitness center, library, day spa, game room, large community kitchen, laundry facilities, study lounges, and technology center.

The Ambler Johnston renovation will also support new central heating and cooling systems as well as updated safety and accessibility accommodations. There will be sections of traditional-style rooms, which will be updated with new fixtures and furniture, as well as suite-style bedrooms with private bathrooms for upperclassmen. Altogether, the renovated Ambler Johnston Hall will provide 1,195 beds.

To learn more about construction projects for residence halls and dining centers on campus, visit the Student Programs construction website.

Written by Chris Gustin.

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