Bill Paulus photo

FM provides a breath of fresh air and truckloads of clean

Dear FM,

Under normal circumstances, one thing we can all count on is that things change. During a pandemic, change happens more often, and the effects are less subtle. This is notable in how our University leadership is responding to the evolving circumstances. In President Gabel’s recent messages, we learned that undergraduate move-in to University housing and in person classes are delayed for at least two weeks. Classes will start as scheduled on Tuesday, September 8 in online or remote formats. For us in FM, our part has not changed, as we continue to meet the needs of U community members who are on campus supporting teaching, research and outreach. Read on to enjoy a couple of stories on how FM is working to support the University’s Sunrise Plan and for some guidance on RIO and social gatherings.   

HVAC - A Busy Summer for Energy Management and District Teams
In addition to the normal summer maintenance and energy conservation projects, Energy Management district engineers, control engineers, technicians and District maintenance staff have been adjusting the campus HVAC systems to meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations for mitigating the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. They have made significant improvements to the air flow systems in all buildings where feasible and are prioritizing the management of systems serving areas where there are group gatherings. The measures taken will increase air exchange and introduce fresh outdoor air at a higher rate. Actions include the following:

  • Verifying the proper calibration and operation of building HVAC systems.

  • Verifying and adjusting airflow rates in well over 1000 classroom, library, dining facilities and other group spaces.

  • Maximizing the introduction of outside air to these spaces/buildings in order to reduce recirculation as much as possible.

  • Disabling demand control ventilation (DCV) systems and occupancy schedules to operate HVAC systems continuously, completely flushing air from buildings each day after hours.

  • HVAC air handling systems are systematically having higher performance filters installed where possible, increasing filtration efficiency of recirculated air.

  • Portable filtration units to recirculate air through HEPA filters are being installed in non-mechanically (naturally) ventilated classrooms.

Thank you to all staff in Energy Management and the Districts for supporting our customers and the University’s Sunrise Plan by completing this very important work helping to stop the spread of COVID-19!

Joe Mayer measuring air flow on the main air handling unit to ensure the unit is meeting required ventilation standards

Mike Krenz updating some controllers in MCB

Disinfectant Pop-up Wipe Buckets Have Arrived
Two semi-truck loads of buckets and cases of refill wipe rolls (all made in the USA) arrived at UMarket on Friday, August 21. They have been labeled and repackaged for distribution to FM District staff who will then place them into general purpose and departmental classrooms and study areas this week.

Mike Hofer happy to have the order arrive

Alan Mortenson and Austen Geist prepare thousands of labels in the Sign Shop

John Harvat, Adam Hefty, Lisa Berndt, Hope Han, Cody Abel, and many others applied the labels to the tops and side of the buckets

The finished product!

Thank you to Mike Hofer and FM and UMarket staff for their coordination and hard work to make this happen, including the FM District staff who will perform the final steps of the process this week to distribute the buckets.

Retirement Incentive Option (RIO) Form Routing
Some questions have been forwarded related to the routing process for RIO forms. Below are the detailed instructions for routing the 2020 Retirement Incentive Option (RIO) Agreement form:

  • Supervisor reviews the RIO Agreement form submitted by the employee to ensure there is awareness of the intended retirement date noted on the form.

  • The completed form is sent directly to UServices HR at UServices HR will coordinate the process and route for electronic signatures required, as outlined below (note that the employee is the only signature required before sending):

    • Department contact signature - Ann Durshia 

    • Department head signature - Bill Paulus

    • Dean or admin officer signature - Mike Berthelsen

    • Ken Horstman last signature 

Please note that the RIO Release Form is signed by the employee on the last day of employment and cannot be turned in now. The employee must return it to Total Compensation on their last day. Use the links below for more information about this RIO one-time benefit that will only be available for a short period of time:

Guidance for Social Gatherings
Due to COVID-19 and based on guidance from Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan and University leadership, social gatherings including retirement parties on campus should follow guidelines outlined in the Plan, including these limits:

  • Outdoors: Gatherings of 25 or less

  • Indoors: Gatherings of 10 or less

Note that this guidance is subject to change as more information becomes available. Continue to check with your FM Assistant/Associate Director (AD) on current protocols for social gatherings.

We have to be creative and work with each other regarding how we honor our retirees on campus keeping in mind the guidelines established for stopping the spread of COVID-19. Options for celebrations:

  • Delay until conditions are safe to gather

  • Consider a Zoom gathering

  • Hold events that follow guidelines from the MN Stay Safe Plan

    • If food is being served, provide individual servings and attendees must be seated when eating

    • Gatherings should be limited to special events only, like retirement parties, and be authorized by your FM AD 

  • Retirement plaques for employees with 10 years or more of service are available as usual from the Sign Shop and may be mailed to an employee’s home address

This is not an ideal situation and is upsetting that we cannot celebrate the contributions of our dedicated staff and wish them well in the normal way we are accustomed to. However, this is an atypical time that requires us to think about the safety of all FM employees and U community members on campus.

I am so proud of how hard you have all been working to maintain positivity and keep up with our changing times. It has been a challenge! Continue to work safely and do everything you can to stop the spread of COVID-19. Remember to wear your mask - it protects you and those you encounter on campus. And take some time to rest and enjoy this upcoming Labor Day weekend. Until then...

Have a great week!



EAM / TRIRIGA Updates and Information
The TRIRIGA Go-Live is only 4 weeks away! Here are a few things for you to know and take action on this week:

  • Now is the time to sign-up to complete your TRIRIGA training. A limited number of online Zoom courses remain before TRIRIGA goes live on September 28. Courses are open now. Learners need to sign-up asap so everyone has a chance to attend required training. Please train early, and then practice often. If you haven’t already, work with your supervisor to determine the right courses for you and/or go to “Find Your Training” on the TRIRIGA training website. The basic ‘core 4’ courses FM staff who will be using TRIRIGA need are:

  • The EAM Awareness Survey arrived in your inbox today. Take a few minutes to complete it to help share progress on preparing for Go Live.

  • Starting September 3, the EAM team is sending weekly newsletters until Go Live. This will include a lot of information about preparation for TRIRIGA.

  • You can also learn more about What’s Changing in FM.

Kronos Information

University Services Enrichment Program (USEP)
USEP is a career enrichment program for current full time Twin Cities University Services Teamster represented employees to obtain education in order to qualify for FM Mechanic positions. University Services offers an educational incentive program to encourage interested workers to obtain a 2-year degree in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC). The program provides financial assistance, in the form of tuition reimbursement of up to $3,000 per school year ($1,500 per semester) for individuals who successfully complete course work and receive credit in a certified 2-year Associate of Applied Science degree in (HVAC). Applications for USEP are now being accepted. For more information and to complete an application click here: USEP information and link to apply. Note that current university mechanics 1, 2, and 3 are not eligible for this program. If you have further questions, contact Curt Holewa, HR Consultant, 612-624-6072 /

Wellbeing Program reminder
The 2019-2020 Wellbeing Program year ends today. Watch for further communications regarding our next Wellbeing Program year which begins October 1, 2020 and includes exciting changes. Go to the Wellbeing Program website for more information.

FM Sunrise Support 
The FM Sunrise Support webpage outlines the services we are providing and guidance in support of the University of Minnesota Sunrise Plan

U of M COVID-19 resources and notes

Latest FM News

We appreciate your hard work!