Rozell Plant leads students on tunnel adventure


Mark Lindsay, the Energy Management Supervisor at the Rozell Plant, led the tunnel tour last Monday. The computer control room as seen here is used to locate specific problems in every area of the entire system, including the campus buildings | Kaitlyn Engen for The Easterner

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

Many EWU students may not think twice about the mechanics behind what gives them the satisfaction of a hot shower on a winter morning, or what keeps them from sweating through their shirts during final exams.

The Rozell Plant, located on Cedar Street next to snyamncut Hall, is the heart of all the heating and cooling systems on the EWU campus. The plant has been providing for the comforts of students and faculty since 1970.

For the people on the EWU campus, temperature regulation of water and air is as simple as turning a dial, but for the workers at Rozell Plant, it is a lot more complicated.

On April 16, in light of Sustainability Week, students got the opportunity to go beneath the surface of what they know and explore underground systems that they walk over every day.

The tunnel tour was led by Mark Lindsay, the Energy Management Supervisor at the Rozell Plant. He is the person in charge of the maintenance of utilities and building temperatures on EWU campus.

Students began their adventure in the boiler room of the Rozell Plant where campus heating is made possible. In the chambers, natural gas supplied by Avista ignites flames that produce steam. The temperature in the chambers reached 441 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the tour.

The computer control room was the next highlight. Computer programming allows for precision in locating specific problems in every area of the system, including the campus buildings. Here, management of the system is as easy as a click of a mouse.

For the students and faculty who enjoy the benefits of air conditioning on hot spring and summer days, the cooling systems that use electricity to compress air and chill water (presented in the tour) provide just that.

After some preview and education of the system’s inner workings, the tourists finally got to experience what they had been anticipating: The mysterious, intricate (and maybe a little spooky) underground web of tunnels of the EWU campus.

The mysterious EWU underground web of tunnels are surrounded by large pipes and cement walls. This tightly spaced tunnel runs throughout campus | Kaitlyn Engen for The Easterner

Surrounded by large pipes and cement walls, the students journeyed through the tightly-spaced maze that led them all the way from the plant– which is very close to the URC–  to underneath Patterson Hall.

Obstacles presented themselves along the way that required climbing, crawling and even some leaping from the students. One could say the tour was definitely not meant for slacks and dress shoes. A few students were covered in water and mud by the end of the tour.

Upon the tour’s completion, Lindsay expressed a great appreciation for the student’s participation in the tour, and wanted to encourage more students to learn about the systems they may take for granted.

“I think students should have a greater awareness of what facilities are doing as far as sustainability and energy management to keep comfort of students,” said Lindsay. “Leading students on an adventure of a lifetime could definitely be a step toward this awareness of what is not always seen.”