Thursday, June 7, 2018

Battery-powered equipment introduced on nation's most beautiful campus

This summer, Western’s Landscape Services takes its first foray into battery powered equipment. Two grass trimmers, a push mower, and two leaf blowers have been added to the team’s tool crib.

The equipment is quieter, generates zero emissions and incorporates improved ergonomics, including less vibration.

They are a good fit for grounds such as Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, which hosts activities throughout the summer, including conferences, weddings and business events.

“Keeping a low profile at this property goes a long way, allowing us to provide better service for the occupants and guests with minimal interruption,” says Mike Lunau, Manager, Landscape Services.

The new pieces of landscaping gear use the same battery power packs from one another and can be swapped between the units. The operators have already reported quick charging times and there is no down time between charges.

The tools that require more juice, such as the blowers, also have a large capacity battery backpack. It is estimated that the team should be able to run the battery-powered tools to complete the same tasks as gas-powered counterparts.

”We do not want to rush into a full conversion to battery powered tools until we are sure they can meet our operational needs,” says Lunau. “However, it does fit nicely with the sustainability goals of the university and our ongoing role as stewards of the natural environment.”

The new equipment appears to check the boxes on a number of the team’s needs. There is some evidence from similar landscape services operations to suggest that battery powered equipment can take the place of gas powered units. For example, Harvard has started the conversion of their operation away from gas powered equivalents. Some Ontario universities are incorporating them into their landscape units, as well.

There appears to be a need to retain some gas-powered tools. Primarily, the battery-powered equipment is not ideal in rainy conditions and would result in a full stop of landscape operations on wet days.

According to Lunau, the timing is right for the University to begin introducing new, higher tech options. Battery-powered tools are becoming more common place and the market is taking shape. As a result, landscape equipment manufacturers are providing more options that are more affordable and more reliable than ever. 

“We will evaluate the new tools and if they continue to meet our needs, we will look to acquire more battery powered gear in the future.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

What you need to know for the upcoming heating season

As we move from the Summer into the Fall, there are four key messages FM would like to share around building temperatures and occupancy comfort:

  • Mid-term exams run the show. The season changes around mid-terms and keeping campus comfortable remains a top priority for the Division. High-volume buildings like Weldon, UCC, and Nat Sci are susceptible to above average temperatures during warmer weather. Facilities Management works closely with building managers to provide the best studying and exam space.
  • Once we switch to heating, we cannot switch back to cooling. The systems to heat and cool the university are different. The air conditioning equipment is drained of chilled water, in order to prevent pipes freezing and bursting. Temperatures below zero threaten these pipes and therefore once the cold weather rolls in, Facilities Management must decommission cooling systems. They will only be recommission when the warmer weather arrives in the Spring. Unfortunately, if there is a hot day before then, the campus will not be able to react with air conditioning.
  • Fluctuating temperatures in the Fall will make it tough to hit thermostat set points in all nine million square feet of occupied space on campus. This is a big place and getting each classroom or office perfectly comfortable, is difficult even when the outdoor air temperatures are static. Seasonal changes in humidity, heat waves and cold snaps, and occupancy volumes add to the challenge.
  • The good news - We are here to help! Tweeters are encouraged to drop us a tweet and report on abnormal conditions @westernuFM
For more information on the 'shoulder season', check out our standing story and related facts;

Friday, September 29, 2017

National Forest Week: What's your favourite tree?

Thanks for celebrating National Forest Week with us! We've spent the entire week telling you our stories and now it's your turn.

Send out a Tweet or Instagram using #WesternUGrowsOnTrees with a pic of your favourite tree on campus and the story of it's significance to you.

I'll get you started...

The pink flowers in this picture are cherry blossoms. The tree usually blooms in May along with a few others in the Medway-Sydenham courtyard. For students, May means study, exam, home with no time to 'stop and smell the flowers'. And for non-residents of Medway-Sydenham Hall, this courtyard is very much hidden from the bustle of core campus.

And as beautiful as the campus is, I always thought it a shame that the campus community will rarely experience some of the most incredible aspects of our natural environment on campus.

So I take every opportunity - including this one - to share the aesthetic charm that is tucked away in the courtyard. Imagine living in Medway-Sydenham Hall, waking up in the morning, looking out your window and seeing this vibrant pink array contrasted by a seemingly infinite blue sky.

Truly awesome and definitely one of my favs. What's yours?

- Posted by Brandon on behalf of Facilities Management.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

National Forest Week: Discovering our very own arboretum

Biology Dept. - Dr. W. Sherwood Fox
Named after Western's third President, Dr. W. Sherwood Fox, the Sherwood Fox Arboretum was established in 1981 by then president, Dr. George Connell. Fox was an avid botanist, noting that Southwestern Ontario's abundance of tulip trees is what lured him to Western's campus.

The arboretum is a botanical garden of trees and shrubs cultivated for scientific, conservation, education and ornamental purposes. The Sherwood Fox Arboretum encompasses all the planted trees and shrubs on campus. Because of the vast number of species found in such close proximity, it plays an important role in education and research. Some of the trees are even labelled for easy identification.

The Arboretum is home to a growing number of species that can thrive in the Great Lakes Lowlands climate region and there is a renewed focus to plant native species. The current arboretum inventory includes roughly 2,400 trees of 350 species. Facilities Management's Landscape Services team maintains the grounds and manages the health and well-being of plants and trees on campus.

The best way to experience the natural environment at Western is to follow the Walking Tour Map. Recently updated for the Global Challenge, the self-guided tour takes adventurers to the far ends of campus, offering facts on areas of significance along the way. Download the Walking Tour Map.

Be sure to take a break and walk through Canada's most beautiful campus. It is even more spectacular when the leaves begin to change colour in Autumn.

Landscape Services:
Walking Tour Map:
Department of Biology Sherwood Fox Arboretum information:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

National Forest Week: National Tree Day Giveaway

Today, September 27, is National Tree Day!

In support of National Tree Day and London's Million Tree Challenge, Western Sustainability team is giving away free seedlings to members of the campus community. Help celebrate National Tree Day, adopt a free tree and find a great spot at home to plant it.

The giveaway will be on the road, see below for convenient times and locations:

Support Services Building (4th Floor Main Lobby): 9:30am - 10:30am
Natural Sciences Centre (1st Floor Main Entrance Lobby): 11:00am - 12:00pm
Middlesex College (1 Floor Main Entrance Lobby): 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Western's National Tree Day Giveaway Poster [2.5MB]:
Sustainability at WesternU:

National Forest Week: Historic Vimy Oaks bring moment of nationhood to campus

Photo credit: Vimy Foundation, Vimy Oaks
In honor of the sacrifices made at Vimy Ridge and in support of the Vimy Centennial Park Project, Western is planting three oak trees that share their 'roots' with a significant moment in Canadian History. 

According to the Vimy Foundation, soldiers seeking souvenirs following the victory at Vimy Ridge led to Ontarian Leslie Miller gathering up a handful of acorns. Upon his return from France, he planted them on a farm in the Scarborough area, where they still stand today.

Saplings grafted with the limbs of those trees are now available to the public. Western has acquired three of these trees. The proceeds help fund the Centennial Park being installed near the Canadian National Vimy Memorial site in Northern France.

This week, the aptly named Commemorative Vimy Oaks will be delivered on campus where they will find a new permanent home. A more formal introduction will be announced in the Fall.

Find our more about...

Friday, September 22, 2017

National Forest Week: Planting 150 maples on campus

Western’s Landscape Services team is planting one tree for each one of Canada’s birthdays.

Beginning the same week as National Forest Week (September 25-29), the first batch of the 150 trees will find a new home on campus. The young trees, all varieties of Maple, are a mix of heights and diameters.

 “Trees of varying maturity provide more flexibility when planting and will enhance sustained growth,” says Mike Lunau, Manager, Landscape Services. “They will be spread throughout campus for everyone to enjoy over the years." 

Landscape Services will be transplanting the larger trees. Using specialized heavy equipment to dig and to load trees with bulkier, more developed root systems. Many of these trees will be planted around TD Stadium.

For planting the smaller Maples, Landscape Services will be joined by student-led EnviroWestern and the Ivey Sustainability Club. This batch will be spread throughout Western's more naturalized areas, integrating with our established wooded areas.

"It is great to have the support of our student groups," says Mike. "Our campus is built on the combined efforts of those that work and study here - this is a prime example of that."