Some people have complained about the lack of heating in recent weeks.
At the onset of fall, buildings across campus face serious heating problems. The cool nights and mornings, followed by warmer daytime temperatures pose major challenges for our antiquated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, according to David Early, executive director of Facilities Management.
“Unfortunately our heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are ill-equipped to meet these needs effectively,” said Early. “The heating systems in our classroom buildings such as Payson Smith Hall, Luther Bonney Hall, the Law Building, Bailey Hall, Corthell Hall, Russell Hall, the John Mitchell Center, etc., are on average 40 years old.”
The age of the HVAC equipment coupled with the inherent difficulty of effectively heating “large institutional buildings” makes maintaining comfortable temperatures in the “shoulder seasons” – spring and fall, almost impossible. If buildings were heated, classrooms would likely overheat when students filled them, making them more uncomfortable than if the heat remained off, said Early.
Complaints began coming in from the Gorham campus during the Columbus Day holiday when temperatures plummeted below 50 degrees in some Bailey Hall offices.
The cause of the unusually cold temperatures was a leak in the 40-year-old underground HVAC piping that dumped over 3,000 gallons of water from the system per day. The heating water flowing to Bailey had to be shut off so Facilities Management could isolate and excavate the burst pipe and repair it.
According to Early, the University is attempting to replace portions of the ailing HVAC system as they break, but is unable to perform major system overhauls due to the high cost, estimated between $2 and $3 million.