UMD is cooling more than heating

Illustration by: Will Madison

Illustration by: Will Madison

It is no secret that once a person is on campus, they are able to walk inside to almost all buildings. According to UMD Maintenance & Operations Supervisor David Wahlberg, the campus is actually cooled more than it is heated.

Wahlberg said that UMD is primarily cooled by what is called chilled water. It is a convenient way of controlling many rooms at one time.

“We have three sites on campus, the CUB building, Swenson Science Building and the Lund building, that have chillers,” Wahlberg said. “We are pumping water in a closed loop that goes from any one of these plants to the campus. And from there we pump them to what we call chilled water coils.”

When the water is pumped into the chilled water coils, the temperature of the water is about 43 degrees. The fan then brings the air to the spaces that need cooling.

“We look for a temperature around 55 degrees discharge, to cool,” Wahlberg said.

Some buildings on campus don’t have air conditioning (AC) yet, including Humanities, AB Anderson and Heller Hall. However, maintenance and operations are working on it and will start work on some of the buildings in 2018.

“They’ll be starting work on AC in Romano gym and the small gym behind that,” Wahlberg said. “This is phase one of three, the first phase is to get chilled water to Romano gym so that we can create a better environment for the floor, which swells from the humidity in the summer.”

Wahlberg said that Humanities, AB Anderson and Heller Hall will eventually getting an AC update as well.

“Of course we would love to have chilled water everywhere,” Wahlberg said. “We have to wait for budgeting to know what else happens in the future,”

Heating and cooling pipes running underneath University Drive from the Lund building to campus. Photo courtesy of Idun Rasmussen.

Heating and cooling pipes running underneath University Drive from the Lund building to campus. Photo courtesy of Idun Rasmussen.

Students and staff are encouraged to contact Maintenance and Facilities Management if they are unhappy about the temperature in a room or space.

“They receive the call or report, and then we’ll dispatch work orders,” Wahlberg said. “We do the very best we can to solve issues with people. Everyone is different and we try to do the best we can with our people and our resources.”

Wahlberg said that maintenance and operations are always thinking of ways they can stay green in the process.

“We can turn equipment on and off as needed. In fact, our scheduling system schedules rooms depending on when they’re used,” Wahlberg said. “We are always trying to figure out ways to save energy.”

When heating the campus, Wahlberg said that they use steam and hot water.

“There’s three heating boilers in the Lund building; they generate steam that gets pumped over to the building, and then we have steam coils,” Wahlberg said. “We have some systems that have been converted to hot water systems because they’re newer buildings.”

Since campus is filled with warm bodies every day, the AC is used more than many people would think.

“Primarily we are cooling all the time, all those fans are discharging cold air, because we are actually cooling more than we are heating,” Wahlberg said.

When thinking about staying green and saving money, Wahlberg said that there are many things students can do to help out.

“It’s important for the students to realize how expensive energy is here, it costs a lot of money,” Wahlberg said. “Anything they can do to help us is greatly appreciated, like turning lights off and closing windows.”

NewsIdun Rasmussen