LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Updating the HVAC system at the State Capitol building is a massive undertaking, that’s about halfway done.
It started in 2018 and officials say they should wrap up in 2026, but staff members said it’s much needed as the last update to the system dates back decades.
“They turn the heat on too soon and you’re always on the edge of heatstroke until it actually cools down outside,” said Dick Clark, legal counsel for the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. “Or they turn it on too late and you’re freezing trying to bundle up.”
The temperature has always been a toss-up for those who work in the building, and Bob Ripley, the capitol’s administrator with the Office of the Capitol Commission, is always on a mission and right now that’s happening through upgrading the HVAC system. That’s part of a $130 million renovation project.
“Two-thirds of that amount is the heating, ventilation, and air conditioner system,” Ripley said. “That is being changed from the last one that was put in the building which was in the early 1960s.”
Ripley said the work is broken into five phases, to renovate each quadrant of the first and second levels as well as the tower.
“The phase we’re working in right now is predominantly legislative space,” Ripley said.
Ripley said the goal has been for all the phases to create the least amount of disruption possible, which is why it’s an eight-year-long project.
Staff and lawmakers’ offices have moved to floors eight, 10, 11, and 12 while work is done in their quadrants, creating some inconveniences but for a significant benefit in the end, like the already finished corridors on the first floor.
“It is a lot of power to give legislative staffers to have our own thermostats, but I don’t think there’s been too much abuse of that privilege,” Clark said.
This summer construction is expected to begin on the northeast quadrant of the building where the Governor’s office is located.
Governor Pillen and others in the area will move to a temporary space for about a year and a half.
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