Sometimes the Fishbowl feels like a sauna, and sometimes the Mason Hall classrooms feel like freezers. But if you’ve ever wondered who controls the thermostats around Angell Hall, you’re not alone.
The Angell Hall thermostats can be adjusted by almost anyone who is using the building’s facilities, although it is not recommended to fiddle around with the thermostats, according to Jim Almashy, an energy engineer in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
“Thermostats in offices and classrooms do not respond in the same way they do at home,” Almashy wrote in an e-mail interview. “It may take an hour to change the temperature two degrees in a large classroom”.
He added that LSA controls the specific temperatures at which its buildings should be kept.
“Ideally, LSA would like all thermostats to be set at 74 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter,” Almashy wrote. “As the LSA Energy Engineer, I try to visit all classrooms, offices, and common areas twice a year making this adjustment.”
Almashy said this temperature range is consistent with practices at other universities and complies with the University’s Planet Blue Program, which was launched in Fall 2008 and is designed to increase energy efficiency.
“When that program is complete, LSA might consider mandating the above temperature settings,” Almashy wrote.
Though temperatures generally stay within a certain range, Almashy added that common areas are usually kept cooler than the rest of the building in the winter and warmer in the summer.
To regulate the change in building temperatures, Almashy said part of his job is to “review classroom schedules, as well as office schedules, and turn off heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and exhaust systems when buildings are unoccupied.”
The reason students sometimes feel like the rooms in Angell Hall, especially the Fishbowl, are too warm is due to the unusual warm days in the middle of spring or fall, according to Almashy.
“The Plant (Operations) cannot just turn large air conditioning systems on and off for a day,” he wrote. “It typically takes a team of skilled trade Plant employees weeks to fill the chilled water air conditioning systems and ready them for operation during the spring, and equally as long to drain them in the fall.”
Almashy said states’ varied weather and temperature patterns make this especially difficult.
“Turning these systems on too soon in the spring or running them too long in the fall could result in catastrophic failures if temperatures drop below freezing for any length of time,” he wrote. “And that’s a real possibility in Michigan.”