Old buildings to blame for inconsistent air temps

Temperatures between campus buildings can vary by almost 10 degrees, according to a study done by the Statesman. Most of the hottest buildings are some of the oldest buildings on campus. Heller Hall, Voss-Kovach Hall, Cina Hall, Marshall W. Alsworth Hall and A.B. Anderson Hall were built in the 1960s or early 1970s and represent five of the eight hottest buildings on campus, according to the Statesman study.

Principal Engineer John Sawyer oversees the heating and cooling units at UMD. UMD has a central steam heater, located near the Darland Administration Building, which supplies the vast majority of campus with heat.

The newer buildings have efficient ventilation and heating systems, and their temperature can be controlled from the central heating plant.

"We can make a change on the fly just by going to the computer system," Sawyer said.

Older buildings must have their temperature controlled on the spot, and for this reason, along with aging hardware, keeping the temperature consistent is one of Sawyer's main challenges. Complaints about the temperature are frequent, and two facilities and maintenance technicians must respond to calls in person to adjust the temperature of the older buildings.

"At times it's a challenge just because we don't have enough people to get out and track down the issues," Sawyer said.

Most students interviewed for this article felt that the school runs a little warm overall.

"Almost every day my classes are really hot," said sophomore Katie Schuster, who has classes in EduE and Montague. "I think they should turn (the temperature) down a bit … I never really hear people say, 'Oh it's freezing.'"

Other students had a more nuanced view of school-wide temperatures.

"I would say that LSBE is cold, and (Heller Hall and Life Sciences) are hot," freshman Hope Theisen said.

Her intuition was corroborated by the Statesman study conducted last week. Heller Hall was a common unsolicited complaint among students as being too hot.

"I have a class on the third floor of Heller Hall which, every day, is a lot warmer than the rest (of my classrooms)," junior Nathan Korson said.

Plans exist to improve the heating system of Heller Hall and make it more accommodating but have not been implemented.

"There is a design in place to add ventilation and change the heating and cooling systems in Heller, but it's never been funded," Sawyer said.

Most students said the varying temperatures were a nuisance, but usually not an impediment to focusing, though some said it presented an issue. Ryan Crain is a freshman and goes from a chilly lecture in Montague Hall to overheating in MWAH.

"I go from Montague (Lecture Hall) wearing a sweatshirt to MWAH sweating out," Crain said.

This can be a problem because his physics class in MWAH often requires students to go to the front of the class and assist the professor with demonstrations.

"It is sometimes distracting because I'd be worried about pitting out … I'd be more focused on keeping my hands to my side than on whatever he was saying."


Statesman Representative and News Editor

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