They are indispensable for keeping the campus going and keeping it pleasant: cleaners, caretakers, caterers, gardeners, receptionists – the list of key people is long. This time, we meet Hans van der Lienden (47), the technical building manager for Carus, the Bongerd and Zodiac.
text Milou van der Horst photo Guy Ackermans
‘To me, the nicest thing about my job is the diversity and the complexity, especially the labs and the animal sheds at Carus. So for instance, I have to pay more attention to process gases and “medical gases”, and that involves different technology again, such as different pipes. We have to have air purification systems in all the buildings, but it has to be different in Carus to other office buildings. The rules and regulations around labs and sheds are different too, and that gives me a chance to expand my knowledge of the job.
‘But technically speaking, the buildings are 80 per cent the same, because they all have things like smoke alarms and a lift. As a technical building manager, I make sure anything that gets broken is fixed safely and promptly by the right company. I also keep an eye out that the maintenance gets done.
‘I consult lots of people every day. If we have to adapt a building, we have to consider the right things. WUR has a sustainability policy, for instance, which means not every solution is feasible. And clients also have their wishes and requirements that we must bear in mind. Together we have to come up with a solution that will keep everybody happy. I enjoy going through that process.
‘Recently, a refrigerator at Carus was so broken that it had to be replaced. It was used for storing animal feeds, which means animal experiments go on there too. But I don’t go into that. For me, someone has a problem, and it’s got to be solved. I think it’s great that we managed to get a new one within 24 hours. It doesn’t matter that I was working on it until 12:30 at night: you just want to help each other so the core business can run smoothly. We’re getting new requests now, with Covid-19, such as for automatic taps and doors, and plexiglass screens and protective glass. All that is new, but it doesn’t make much difference whether I have to order a chair or a sheet of plexiglass.
‘Because of the coronavirus, we also have to follow new guidelines for ventilation. One of them is that nearly twice as much air must be refreshed in an hour than usual. As a result, I take a lot of air measurements because I want to check whether my assumptions are correct. The guidelines are clear, but how to apply them can be less so, so that is still keeping me busy.
‘You need a broad knowledge of the job for this work. I have managed that, as I’ve had a new job every seven years. From technician to hotel building manager. Although I’ve only been working here for two and a half years, I think I will stay at WUR for the rest of my career: there is enough diversity here for the job to stay challenging. And I feel at home here. Everyone involves me in everything and they come to me with their questions. Even if I don’t always know the answer, they trust me to know where they can find it.’