The University of Windsor has a sprawling network of underground tunnels — but no, you can’t go in them.
For the longest time it has been known that their is a complex network of service tunnels underneath the campus of the University of Windsor. For a time, their existence was the talk of rumours: rumours that they had been passageways for students back when the University opened in the 1960′s, rumours that they didn’t exist, rumours that they were only a small network between Assumption University and a few other buildings.
The University of Windsor sits on top of several thousand feet of utility tunnels. The tunnels originate from the “Energy Conversion Centre”, the Campus’ main powerplant (the spaceship-like building near 7/11), and carry high pressure steam piping, high-voltage electricity cabling, compressed air lines and chilled water to service nearly every building on campus.
The University tunnels use a concept of distributed heating and cooling, much like a similar project in Downtown Windsor. A building located on Windsor’s riverfront called the Central Refrigeration Plant chills water and sends it through the tunnel network during summer months. The chilled water is used for buildings’ air conditioning systems. In the winter, high pressure steam is used for heating campus buildings.
When it snows, the hot tunnels often melt would-be snow-covered sidewalks before the snow even has the chance to stick. In the winter, watch how fast snow melts at the entrance to Dillon Hall, or look for a clear patch of cement across University Avenue near the Leddy Library.
With this spring’s demolition of Cody Hall, a former residence building, building deconstruction crews unearthed a portion of tunnels that makes their way through the main areas of campus. The large concrete box carries steam, cable TV, internet and other utilities to two of the University’s operating residences. This concept of distributing utilities from a central point, also found at many other University campuses in North America, allows institutions to keep costs low and centralize operations.
It may be true at one point in time that the tunnels were usable by students, professors and the like, however those days have since passed: the tunnels are locked tight, alarmed and access is enforced to only permit maintenance workers and building contractors in to keep things running efficiently.