By SUSAN JONES
A new policy on temporary signage in public areas on Pitt’s campuses is making its way through the review process and got an airing Jan. 25 at the Senate’s Plant Utilization and Planning Committee.
The policy will require departments and responsibility centers to designate areas where signs can and can’t be posted. Office doors are specifically excluded from the policy, so faculty members and others can continue to use that space as they see fit.
“We did consider subjects like free speech, which really, when we finished our discussions, didn’t have a large impact on this particular policy,” said Tony Graham, senior policy analyst in the Office of Policy Development, “because this policy is more about where you put the signs and when they get taken down, and how to protect the buildings and landscaping where the signs may be, more so than the messages being purveyed.”
The draft policy says the signage must comply with the student code of conduct. It also must contain the name and contact information of the person or organization posting the sign and have a beginning and ending period for display. After the end date, facilities personnel will remove the sign, so old notices are taken down in a timely fashion.
The policy prohibits posting by groups unaffiliated with Pitt or to market or promote goods or services from non-university, for-profit organizations.
“We don’t want to take away the communications that people want to provide within their department,” said Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor, Facilities Management. “But we do just want to say, you know what, it can’t be everywhere, and it can’t be any style. There’s an aesthetic to the campus that we’re trying to preserve as well.”
Kathleen Kelly, an associate dean in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a member of the committee who served on the working group for the policy, said she believed that with the input from the policy office and Pitt’s lawyers they were able to “move from something that some people felt maybe was onerous and micromanaging to this, I think, very collaborative policy that does allow for … sort of that individuality, if you will, but yet maintains the aesthetic.”
Members of the Pitt community can view and comment on the draft policy here through Feb. 18. The comment period started on Jan. 21 and is open for 28 days.
Andy Moran, senior manager of grounds, gave his annual report to the committee. His crews have spent most of the year doing more maintenance than new landscaping, because of the need to stay socially distant. He noted that Pitt did become a member of Bee Campus USA this year, which recognizes sustainable policies and habitats that support pollinators.
And he’s looking forward to the spring and summer, when the 6,200 plants installed for the Bigelow Boulevard/William Pitt Union grounds project start to bloom. The plants are mostly perennials and “100 percent native,” he said.
Even though the Oakland campus has fewer people on it, particularly in December, Moran’s crews were still busy clearing snow. He said it was the second snowiest December on record with 26 inches falling. “It’s definitely different without a lot of students here,” Moran said. “But we obviously still need to keep the campus clear for staff that are in, the researchers that are in and, of course, the public that traverse our campus every day.”
Bernotas gave an update on the Oakland campus’ energy use. Some highlights included:
Increasing chilled water capacity is a priority, which is one of the reasons deep trenches were dug on Bigelow Boulevard. New chilled water lines were installed for future demand, he said. “We don’t want to have to come back in and tear up Bigelow Boulevard again.”
Pitt currently has six electrical substations feeding into the campus. Bernotas said a seventh will need to be added on upper campus to meet future needs.
Much work needs to be done for Pitt to meet its commitment to be carbon neutral by 2037. Bernotas said changes at Pitt facilities will need to account for 60 percent of the greenhouse gas emission reductions. “It’s a two-phased approach,” he said. “We’ve got to reduce our demand. And then the part that we still do need — that remaining demand — we need to be able to clean that so that it’s carbon neutral.”
Currently, six buildings out of 138 — Biomedical Science Towers 1, 2 and 3; Allen Magee Scaife Hall, Benedum Hall and Chevron Science Center — account for 40 percent of Pitt’s energy consumption.
Fourteen of the buildings on the Oakland campus have LEED certification and five more are pending.
Power from a new hydroelectric plant on the Allegheny River will provide 25 percent of Pitt’s energy by 2024, Bernotas said. The plant is now going through the planning and permitting phase. Another 13 percent of the campus’ annual electricity usage will come from a planned 20-megawatt solar power facility on the border of Allegheny and Beaver counties starting in 2023.
A stormwater master plan calls for lines to be installed on the hillside above Eberly Hall, where other enabling work is now going on, that will capture the stormwater to be used in the chilled water system. The Bigelow project also included a new stormwater line.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 724-244-4042.
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