Kent State stays open despite weather

Douglas Miller

More than 600 Northeast Ohio schools were closed Monday because of severe weather; some were still closed yesterday. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Kent dropped to nearly -10 degrees with wind chill. Wind chill values are expected to be between -1 and -9 degrees today.

Mike McDonald, director of Campus Environment and Operations, said when the temperatures begin to move to extremes, his staff experiences building issues. He said most of the problems he has experienced on campus this past week due to cold do not directly affect keeping the buildings warm.

McDonald’s staff has come across numerous fire-panel trouble alarms because code requires them to be placed near door entrances.

“The cold affects the sensitive electronics,” McDonald said. “The system sends out a silent alarm requiring it to be checked by a technician.”

Director of Energy Thomas Dunn said the cold has not really affected the Kent State Power Plant. He said when the plant works close to capacity it is actually more efficient.

“We just produce more steam,” Dunn said.

The power plant is responsible for supplying the heat for every building on campus. Dunn said the plant recycles the steam created from making power. The steam is then reheated and sent underground to campus for heat.

Dunn said the colder weather has cost the university about $9,000 more a day as compared to last week’s costs – an additional $63,000.

The weather has caused a few freezing and leaking situations, but in general all buildings have maintained heat McDonald said.

“Occupied areas on campus should be no colder than 65 degrees Fahrenheit and no warmer than 75 degrees Fahrenheit,” McDonald said.

As for chilly rooms, he said there is always a handful of problems on campus every day.

“It is not unusual for a heating vent to go out or a fan coil to freeze, but for the most part, entire buildings are up and operational,” McDonald said.

Contact building and grounds reporter Douglas Miller at [email protected].