UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | June 17, 2024

Goldilocks syndrome spreads throughout campus buildings: too hot, too cold, just right

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Controlling building temperatures on campus may not be rocket science, but it’s more complicated than you might think.

Dixie Sun News polled 106 students via text message and 28 faculty members via email about their opinion of building temperatures on campus.  

The poll consisted of four options: cold, just right, hot or depends on the day. The results leaned a bit chilly.

In response to the question, 40 students responded “just right,” 38 responded “cold,” 14 responded “hot,” and 14 responded “depends on the day.”

Most of the more detailed and opinionated responses were about classes being too cold.

Brittany Hammontree, a junior biology major from Pahrump Valley, Nev., said, “If I could compare [classroom temperatures] to one thing, then it would be an ice box.”

The faculty’s results paralleled the students’ results.

In response to the question, 10 faculty members responded “just right,” 13 responded “cold,” three responded “hot,”  and two responded “depends on the day.”

Eric Young, assistant professor of communication, wrote, in response to the poll, that his building temperature is like a “meat locker.”

Other teachers expressed their building temperatures to be too hot.

“[This building’s temperatures] are out of control,” wrote art professor Glen Blakley. “They need to redo the [air conditioning] system in the North Plaza.”

Controlling the building temperatures requires more than just turning up a thermostat; it deals with money and government mandates. 

According to an executive order from former Gov. Michael Leavitt issued on June 21, 2001, building temperatures must be in the limits of certain mandated temperatures. 

“Heat will be set at a maximum of 72 degrees during scheduled occupancy and 69 degrees for unoccupied times,” according to Dixie State College’s Campus Services’ temperature policy. “The summer temperatures will be 75 degrees during scheduled occupancy and 80 degrees when the building is not scheduled.” 

If the buildings are required to stay within those temperature boundaries, then why are some students and faculty uncomfortable with the building temperatures? 

Facilities Operations Director Doug Whitehead and Kerry Dillenbeck, heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialist, have the answer: thermostat problems.

“Every time we add on to a building…we changed the design and balance of it,” Whitehead said. “It makes a difference how the air flows; how the [thermostat] senses.”

The underlying problem is that thermostat positions control the temperatures of areas that it doesn’t even sense. This causes a heating or cooling unbalance. 

“If you have a lady bring in a heater; she warms up her section,” Whitehead said. “And if that’s the section the thermostat is in, then that tells the thermostat ‘Hey, I’m warm in here. Call more cooling.’ Her heaters will raise up the thermostat to try and cool it down, and these other two offices are freezing to death because she has a heater running.”

Thermostat issues are apparent in three buildings, if not more. 

North Instructional

The North Instructional building used to be an institute for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Whitehead said the building has been added on to since he has been at DSC and that has caused thermostat unbalance. 

“[The NIB] is our worst one because they started out with more open spaces and they started petitioning them off to make classrooms and offices,” Whitehead said. “The thermostat may be down 35 feet from where some of those offices are. It’s never going to get any sense out of that room.”

The upper-level classrooms in the north part of the NIB are controlled by the thermostat which is in the basement or downstairs area.

“The lower area is naturally going to be colder so that satisfies, and then these guys have classrooms with mega people in it and they get hot,” Dillenbeck said.

Jennings

Whitehead said the Jennings’ system is fighting itself because brand new electronic controls are basically looking at a system that used to be a pneumatic system, or air-driven. 

Also, he said when the building was remodeled, they separated large rooms into smaller rooms.     

This caused three to six offices to be on one central sensor that controls all of the offices. 

Whitehead said the problem with the Jennings remodel was that the planners were more concerned with the aesthetic design than mechanical design. 

“They want to make [renovated buildings] look beautiful, but they don’t think of the functionality of it and how the buildings are going to work heating and cooling-wise,” Dillenbeck said. “The Jennings got some upgrades, but not everything.”

Udvar-Hazy

Whitehead said multiple rooms in the Udvar-Hazy have computers in them that were never intended to have computers.         

“Every time we go into a classroom and we see computers, if there is one student sitting there [at a computer], then that is two extra students they didn’t design the room for,” Dillenbeck said.

Whitehead said some rooms designed for 30 people can easily have the heat of 80 to 90 people from the electrical equipment.

Working with the remodeled buildings is a challenge.

“When you are dealing with these old buildings, sometimes it’s pretty tough,” Dillenbeck said. “We try to do what we can in that particular situation, but it is hard to keep everyone happy.”