Campus thermostat highs, lows leave many confused
By Nov. 5, the heat was on.
But by mid-November, a wave of unseasonably high temperatures hit the area, prompting complaints from those uncomfortable with soaring classroom temperatures.
Frank Gentile, a sophomore in industrial technology said the temperatures were particularly annoying when attempting to take a test.
“One day it will be hot as a hell and the next day it will be freezing,” Gentile said.
Gentile was not the only one who complained of temperatures in campus buildings.
Scott Pike, superintendent of maintenance, said the Physical Plant received a number of calls regarding building temperatures.
“We continually get complaints from different buildings,” Pike said. “If it’s a building-wide problem we try to look into it and get someone out there to fix it as soon as possible. But some of the time it will be one classroom or sometimes it’s just an individual compliant.”
Pike said the hotter temperatures during this time are typical of periods when outside temperatures venture beyond 55 degrees. He said there were a number of calls from buildings such as Lawson Hall shortly before break when outside temperatures reached the mid to upper seventies. He said they attempt to respond to complaints within 72 hours after receiving the call, but emphasized campus heating is “a significant process” and cannot easily be switched on and off.
Pike said that just because outside temperatures reach unusual highs does not mean they can simply turn off the heat. He said there is no way to turn the air back on once it has been shut off for the semester. He said they usually do not attempt to do so until the month of April.
There are some buildings, such as Anthony Hall, that have their own air conditioning system and can regulate individually.
However, Brad Dillard, associate director of facilities, said there are other buildings that even rely on nearby facilities for their heating and cooling systems. The Neckers Building is one facility that houses the heating and cooling system for surrounding buildings.
The Physical Plant monitors the heating systems in all campus locations, excluding the University Housing and the Student Center.
They are responsible for deciding when to turn on and turn off the heating and cooling systems on campus. The Facilities Operation Center, a department of the physical plant, is primarily responsible for handling any calls and directing any reports and complaints concerning the matter.
Dillard said there have been no more complaints than usual this semester. He said one must also take into account the differences of the heating and cooling systems when complaining.
“It has a lot to do with the size of campus we have,” Dillard said. “Some of these buildings date back to the 1960s and some of these are newer facilities with much more updated technology, so there are a variety of heating systems.”
The process of regulating temperatures involves, for many buildings, going into the facility to make the transition each system from summer to winter mode. The Physical Plant started to turn on the heating on campus Nov. 3, activating heating for several buildings each day until Nov. 5.
“It’s like this every winter,” said Rich Taylor, a graduate student in theatre design from Cleveland, Ohio, who said he has become accustomed to dealing with temperature issues in the Communications Building.
Taylor, who has spent a lot of time in the building over the past three years, said he has noticed the north wing of the building often being hotter than the south wing.
Despite the efforts of the University to efficiently respond to complaints and to set a regular temperature of 75 degrees, officials say some discomfort is inevitable.
“It’s just the nature of hot and cold calls,” Pike said. “You can’t satisfy everyone all the time.”