Project Updates


Project Timeline

(November 2018 - April 29, 2019)

In November 2018, a project to upgrade the PSFA Building’s electrical and mechanical system began. The project included the installation of rooftop mechanical shafts and associated roof patching. In January 2019, the shafts were installed and the roof was patched. Unfortunately, the original patching material did not bond properly with the existing roofing material, resulting in leaks and water intrusion.

To provide some background, PSFA is an older building which has a unique flat roof. The roof is sealed with a material called “coal tar pitch.” It is a very durable material but isn’t used that often anymore, because roofs tend to be designed differently now, then they were half a century ago.

January 7, 2019 - January 25, 2019:

Additional roof patch options were reviewed and some options were implemented. Multiple rain events prevented continuous work, and all options failed to prevent leaks.

January 21:

Spaces impacted by construction were associated with a roof leak received a final cleaning, and the contractor had begun to pump water off of the roof. Plans for a new roofing membrane are underway.

January 29, 2019 – February 1, 2019:

Coal tar pitch was used on roof to obtain a water-tight seal prior to rains and the first complaints were received from occupants regarding odors. EH&S performs testing on 1/29 and found that levels are not elevated. To mitigate odors, carbon filters were secured at air intake vents prior to start of roof work.

February 8, 2018 (and after rains):

Water was pumped off of roof in preparation for weekend roofing activities, and complaints from occupants received regarding strong odors. EH&S took additional measurements and did not detect any hazardous gases or vapors.

February 11, 2019 - February 13, 2019:

Mitigation efforts were implemented. Carbon filters were secured at air intake vents and the project team met on site to develop solutions to address odor concerns regarding roofing materials. A plan was developed to perform roof work only on weekends without rain, and to also only work on areas that could be fully completed within that weekend. Fans were to be provided within building, as requested, and on the roof to dissipate odors. Negative air machines were also installed at each floor and occupants were requested to keep exterior windows closed at upper levels. Daily project team meetings were also established.

February 12:

The university implemented a recovery plan, which was activated to: move building construction work to the nights and weekends to mitigate disruption to building occupants; expand mitigation efforts to displace odors from entering the PSFA Building; initiate efforts to accelerate off gassing; provide weekly construction updates to building occupants; add staff responsible for project oversight and management.

February 26, 2019:

It was not possible to conduct roof work due to weather.

February 22, 2019:

Roof work occurred during the weekend with fans set up on the roof to dissipate odors.

February 25, 2019 – February 26, 2019:

The university received occupant complaints about the odors.

February 27, 2019:

Additional mitigation measures were then implemented:

  • Unfinished areas of roof work were covered with plastic to contain off-gassing.
  • Large fans were installed at air intake to direct odors away from intake vents.
  • Charcoal filters were installed in air scrubbers at each floor within building.
  • Air scrubber installed in stairwell at mechanical penthouse.
  • The contractor was directed to keep door to mechanical penthouse closed at all times and remove any roofing materials from the roof or penthouse or wrap completely in plastic.

Additional occupant complaints were received. An emergency meeting held with multiple departments on campus and the contractor to develop additional solution and the building’s mechanical system was adjusted to positively pressurize the building.

February 28, 2019:

Planning began to move occupants out of the building on a voluntary basis.

March 4, 2019:

The first phase of occupants moved out of the PSFA Building into Adams Humanities and Millennium Consulting was contacted to provide an environmental assessment of the building.

March 5, 2019:

For further mitigation effort, (96) carbon filters were installed within PSFA air handlers to prevent odors from entering the building’s mechanical system.

March 8:

Plan in place to shut off air handlers to prevent odors from entering the building and to install ducting to bring fresh air into the building, removal of roving materials and containers on the roof, cleaning of mechanical penthouses, cleaning of all the exposed tar-based mastic on the roof and covering of all exposed tar-based mastic, among other efforts.

March 9, 2019:

SDSU began the second phase of moving occupants out of the PSFA Building into Adams Humanities. SDSU administrators decide to temporarily close the building March 13 through March 15.

March 9, 2019:

Roof work was completed and air monitoring began on a weekly basis.

March 11, 2019:

Occupants were notified of building’s temporary closure. SDSU sent a campus email notice to faculty, staff and students, informing the community of the building’s temporary closure. The SDSU Urgent Page (urgent.sdsu.edu/) is populated with information and frequently asked questions.

March 12, 2019:

An additional email message was sent to faculty, staff and also student with classes in the PSFA Building with additional information specific to their situation.

March 12, 2019:

An announcement about the PSFA Building was published on NewsCenter.sdsu.edu.

March 12, 2019 – March 14, 2019:

SDSU administrators decided to temporarily close the PSFA Building through end of Spring Break and remaining occupants were moved out of building.

March 13, 2019 – March 15, 2019:

Roof clean-up work occurred, including removal of any remaining exposed coal tar pitch.

March 22, 2019:

An air intake snorkel was installed on the roof of PSFA.

March 25:

An email notice was sent to faculty, staff and students with classes in the PSFA Building, providing an update.

During the week of March 25, 2019: Air monitoring continued three times per week.

March 27, 2019:

The SDSU Urgent page was updated with more information.

March 28, 2019:

An email notice was sent to faculty, staff and students with classes in the PSFA Building, providing an update. The SDSU Urgent page was updated with more information.

March 31, 2019:

The SDSU Urgent page was updated with more information.

April 2, 2019:

The SDSU Urgent page was updated with more information.

April 3, 2019:

SDSU held its first Forum, and based on the comments and concerns, SDSU President Adela de la Torre announced that occupants will not be required to return to the PSFA Building. The forum presentations were recorded, and the recording was made available via the SDSU Urgent site, which was also updated with information and new FAQs after the public forum closed.

April 5, 2019:

SDSU administrators decided not to fully reoccupy the PSFA Building before the end of the semester to allow the university to fully address ongoing concerns of any students, faculty and staff who have classes and offices in the building, and to provide a long-term solution for building occupants.

April 8, 2019:

SDSU held its second PSFA Building forum for students, faculty and staff. The university also sent an email notice to faculty, staff and students with classes in the building and updated the SDSU Urgent page with a recording from the session, an updated class list and additional information.

April 9, 2019:

The SDSU Urgent page was updated.

April 22, 2019:

The SDSU Urgent page was updated with information related to class location for final exams.

April 24-26:

SDSU hired a firm to perform additional tests over a three-day period. The testing was related to the specific issues raised by students, faculty and staff who hold classes, have offices spaces and maintain laboratories in the PSFA Building. Most of those concerns were discussed broady during the PSFA Building forums held in April, during which members of the senior leadership team attended. The testing focus has centered on mold, asbestos, fiberglass, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, humidity and overall building comfort. This report is expected to be received the week of May 5.

April 29:

SDSU Urgent Page updated with additional project and timeline information.