A Message from Columbia University Facilities

While winters in New York City typically bring snow, ice and cold, this winter has been especially harsh, with the "polar vortex" plunging the city into a prolonged deep freeze, several snowstorms disrupting the region, and blasts of bitter arctic air that are expected to continue in the coming weeks. 

During severe weather events, Facilities must not only remove snow and ice, ensure public safety and keep temperatures comfortable, but also address the infrastructure failures that result from the extreme cold.  

I'm writing to assure you that we in Facilities are working hard to keep you safe and comfortable. Our Facilities Services Center (x4-2222) is open 24/7 and is prepared to handle your calls. We have additional staff on hand to help provide fast response to service requests and emergencies. Through our annual State of Good Repair (SOGR) program, we are continuously upgrading our campus infrastructure, and we will use the learning from this recent cold spell to guide our next round of SOGR investments.

You can help. By taking these precautions before you leave each day, you will help save energy and reduce the risk of frozen pipes and the damage it can cause:

  • Make sure all windows are closed securely. This single step may be the most important way that you can protect your work area from potentially-damaging high winds.
  • Remember windows in spaces that are not usually occupied. It is often an open window in one of these "forgotten" rooms that causes frozen or split pipes, not to mention wasted energy.
  • Leave all radiator valves and fans coils on to ensure adequate heating and to avoid damage from freezing. Fan coils should be set to the slowest speed setting.
  • Clear clothing or furniture away from heaters to avoid inadequate heating that may cause freeze-ups and damage.
  • Make sure all faucets are off.
  • Report problems, such as leaks or windows or doors that cannot be closed to the Facilities Services Center at (212) 854-2222.

As temperatures begin to fall again and we (grudgingly) enter the next severe cold snap to hit our area, we appreciate your support and patience as we work together to keep our campus safe, beautiful and functional.

Stay safe and warm.


Frank Martino

Vice President of Operations

Columbia University Facilities