Heating and cooling campus wide

Anthony Didion

The Kent State University Facilities Management team has the task of heating and cooling most of the buildings on campus every year.

The buildings on campus are heated by steam, created by hot water running through the pipes and air conditioned by chilled water running through the pipes, said John White, Associate Director Residential Facilities. 

The steam comes from the Kent State Power Plant and the chilled water comes from one of the various chilled water plants around campus, one being right next to White Hall, said White. 

Generally, the academic buildings’ heating systems trigger on outside temperature. If the outside temperature drops below 60 degrees, the heating system turns on and provides water ranging between 100 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit creating steam, said James Kurtz, Assistant Director of University Facilities Management.

The cooling systems turn on between April 15 and October 15, when the outside temperature is above 55 degrees, utilizing chilled water from the buildings’ designated chilled water plant.  When the outside temperature is below 55 degrees during those months, the cooling system turns off and the outside air circulates through the buildings, said Kurtz.

“A few exceptions to this generalization exists,” said Kurtz. “The buildings that have a two-pipe arrangement are the exceptions.”

Bowman, DeWeese, Satterfield and the Center for Performing Arts have two-pipe arrangements, said Kurtz. This means that it either has heated water or cooled water running through the pipes. This makes it impossible to turn the heat on when there is one oddly cold day. If there is an abnormally cold day before the heat is turned on for the winter, then the occupants of the building feel the outside air, causing some discomfort. 

“The buildings with the two-pipe systems have their heat switched on for the winter,” said Kurtz. “When the heat is turned on depends on the weather forecast after Oct. 15.” 

There have been a few cold days the past few weeks that caused discomfort in some of two-pipe buildings since the heat has not been turned on yet.

The rest of the buildings on campus have a four-pipe system, meaning that two pipes have heated water and two pipes have chilled water. This allows those buildings to freely switch between heat and cold air depending on the outside temperature, White said.

The facilities management system turns equipment on and off and adjusts the speed of fans, pump volumes and temperatures with energy conservation and comfort being the two driving forces, Kurtz said.  

For the buildings with the four-pipe systems, the switch in temperatures is virtually unnoticeable by the building occupants. The university’s complex computerized control system makes the transition gradually and without any influxes in temperature, said Kurtz.

Jay M. Pike, Assistant Dean of Administrative Services, said the current state of the heating system hasn’t been a problem for students visiting the library.

“I haven’t heard any complaints the past week or two,” said Pike. “Lately everything seems to be comfortable.”     

Kurtz said Kent State strives to make sure the heating and cooling of the buildings are as energy efficient as possible. The Energy Management Department ensures that the energy is used efficiently and cost-effectively. Kent State is a leader in terms of energy-related savings and programs. Energy Management is currently a member of the U.S. EPA Energy Star and Green Light Program.

“By utilizing outside temperature for free cooling below 55 degrees it makes it unnecessary to operate large and expensive mechanical cooling systems,” said Kurtz. “By turning off heating systems above 60 degrees it minimizes the cooling necessary to maintain building temperature.”

Contact Anthony Didion at [email protected].