New Physical Plant Facilities Named for Longtime Employees
October 25, 2001
Overshadowed by recent construction projects like the Knobloch Campus Center and new music building, the college has recently completed two facilities equally as valuable to its well-being.
And on Thursday, Oct. 18, the college dedicated those two facilities to two recently retired staff members whose vision and hard work helped bring them about. Bob Collins, director of physical plant from 1990 to 2000, and Phillip Cashion, who retired last year as associate director of utilities after 37 years at the college, were both on hand to receive thanks for their successful efforts in helping the college modernize its infrastructure.
About 50 friends and associates enjoyed a dinner and brief ceremony outside the new Robert W. Collins Chiller Plant, and celebrated the Phillip D. Cashion Power Substation on the west side of campus, both of which were completed recently.
Jerry Archer, assistant director of facilities maintenance, told the crowd about the chiller plant, a state-of-the-art facility that supplies 42-degree water via underground pipes to cool Knobloch Campus Center, the E.H. Little Library, and Duke, Sentelle, and Cannon residence halls. Archer said that by the end of next summer, an additional six buildings, including Chambers, will be on line.
The central Collins Chiller Plant allows the college to replace the noisy and relatively inefficient air conditioning units at each building that the infrastructure process reaches. David Holthouser, Collins' successor as director of physical plant, said the $4-million facility should generate that much savings in energy cost in about a dozen years.
Jeff Linde of Newcomb & Boyd, the Atlanta firm that engineered the facility, said the individual units attached to each building require about 1.15 kilowatts of electricity to generate one ton of chilled air. The chiller plant does the job at a 40 percent more efficient rate, requiring less than .7 kilowatts per ton.
Collins thanked those administrators who supported his insistence that the college would benefit from a central chilling facility. But he acknowledged that it is not as public a building as others on campus, joking that, "It's an honor to have the bowels of campus named after me!"
Collins came to Davidson from similar employment at the Citadel. He was also highly honored in that job, winning the State of South Carolina's "Palmetto Award" for outstanding work in helping Charleston prepare for, and recover from, Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Davidson has been reengineering its electrical system at the same time as the air conditioning system. The Cashion Power Substation represents a major step in that direction, and gives the college a much more secure source of electricity. It is attached directly to Duke Power's main transmission lines, meaning that only outages on Duke's primary system will cause in outages on campus. In addition, the system is engineered in a "loop" configuration that allows the college to quickly restore power to a building from another direction if one of the underground lines on campus is cut.
Phillip Cashion remembered overhead power lines and frequent power outages on campus in 1967, when he began working for Davidson. The college was served at that time by lines feeding from several points on the town grid, so any interruption of local service most likely also affected the college. In 1968 the college buried the overhead lines, and upgraded its power service to 4,160 volt service. The new system is 12,000 volts, providing adequate electricity for a campus much more technologically-dependent than in Cashion's early years here.
The installation of the chiller plant and substation have also allowed the college to negotiate a more favorable rate for its electricity with Duke Power. Collins said that Davidson was paying a regular residential rate for power a decade ago, in part because its peak demand for power during the hottest part of the summer was very high. The efficiencies generated by the chiller plant will reduce that peak summer level. That, combined with the substation, have helped the college get one of the best rates available from Duke Power.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is ranked in the top ten liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson is currently engaged in "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.