Campus cool

Jul 272004
Authors: Kyle Endres

Sweltering summer heat can cause students and faculty some

discomfort outdoors, but if it gets hot enough it can affect some

campus buildings inside as well.

CSU has a district cooling plant that distributes 3,500 tons of

cooling to most campus buildings. Occasionally, extreme outside

temperatures and a high level of humidity in the air can “max out”

the system, meaning one or more buildings have to be taken off.

“It’s only a couple of weeks out of the year at most that we’re

maxed out,” said John Morris, manager of facilities operations for

Facilities Management.

Facilities Management has a hierarchy for which buildings get

shut off first. The first building to be shut off is the Lory

Student Center – which also has its own chiller system – followed

by classroom and administrative buildings and then research-based


Facilities Management strives to maintain 78 degrees Fahrenheit

in campus buildings between the months of May and September, which

is usually possible unless there are extreme temperature swings,

Morris said.

“People can handle those swings better than some of the animals

and research projects,” he said. “You can easily change the

temperature 5 degrees and ruin a $5 million project.”

Journalism graduate student Lindsay Lysengen has found her own

way to deal with the fluctuations in temperature.

“I treat coming to campus like an outdoor situation and dress in

layers,” Lysengen said.

There are several campus buildings that use their own chillers

to keep temperatures low. A few buildings, including the Shepardson

Building and the Music Building, have no cooling system at all.

Joan Cusack, the accounting technician for the Department of

Music, Theatre and Dance, said working in the Music Building

without air conditioning can be frustrating.

“It is extremely hard to work with no air circulation, with

noise of fans going on,” Cusack said. “We have had people faint in

the past because of the heat.”

Morris said Facilities Management will work on getting cooling

into some of these buildings as funding becomes available.

“We’ve been slowly expanding the system, getting cooling into

buildings that never had it,” he said.

Cusack said any type of system, even just one to allow

ventilation throughout the building, would be helpful.

The district cooling plant is more effective than individual

building chillers, which are in turn more effective than office air

conditioning units, Morris said.

One of the more difficult aspects of cooling the campus is

during the months when there are temperature shifts, such as the

warm days and cool nights in April, he said. A lot of campus

buildings can only have either the cooling system or the heating


“These transition seasons are really tough trying to meet the

occupant demands for internal space temperatures,” Cusack said.

Morris said the Facilities Management is open to suggestions for

cooling the campus, and people can call 491-0077 if they have a

problem with building temperatures.

“We take their needs into consideration and do the best we can

with the resources (the university) give us,” he said.

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