Trying to make it cool at college

Cooling towers throughout campus try their best to keep the college at a crisp 70 degrees during the recent hot weather.

Alex HeldrichReporter

As the days get warmer, it seems like the college does too. Pierce College Puyallup Building and Grounds Manager Dan Timmons and the maintenance crew work to make sure that Pierce College Puyallup is at the optimal temperature for students and staff.

The temperature is controlled by a computer program made by Johnson Controls, a popular company for heating, ventilating and air conditioner systems for large buildings such as the college.

The servers for the system are located at the Fort Steilacoom campus, but Timmons and a few other maintenance workers have full control of the temperature controls.

“We try to maintain anywhere between 70 and 72 degrees at all times of the year,” Timmons said. “It’s not normal that we set specific temperatures for people. Say somebody wanted their room at 76 degrees. We wouldn’t do that because that’s pretty extreme.”

There are temperature sensors on the buildings that heat or cool the rooms according to the temperature outside.

“We have all of our own temperature sensors on our buildings, so it’s not like we’re going off of the weather in Lakewood and matching it over here,” Timmons said. “All of the servers are located at Fort Steilacoom so if I change a control over here all, of the information would transfer over to the server there.”

In places on campus such as the cashier office or registration office, temperature regulation is more difficult because the heat in the office rushes out into the hallways through the service windows. One of the most difficult places on campus to regulate temperatures is the library, Timmons said.

“Over the last couple years, the temperature in the library has been up in the 80s,” Timmons said. “There’s a lot of variables in that space: lights, tons of windows and high ceilings. Because of this, there’s a lot of extra heat getting into that space.”

Another factor that contributes to the high temperatures in the library is the various amounts of people that constantly filter in and out.

“There could be 10 people, then 100 then 10 again so that’s very much a factor that has an effect on the heat,” Timmons said. “Trying to fine tune your HVAC system is challenging, but we’re getting better at it.”

Some students and staff have noticed the warmer air in the Brouillet Library/Science Building lobby and in certain areas of the library.

Circulating Supervisor Lori Broberg who works at the checkout counter of the library has noticed a definite change in the library’s climate during spring and summer.

“We have a few students complain that it’s too hot in (the library) and that they have to leave, but we don’t have a ton of students complain,” Broberg said.

The HVAC system in the library has had problems operating correctly within the last few years, but Timmons and his team have slowly been nursing it back to health.

“Lately when it’s been 80 plus degrees outside, we’ve been able to maintain the library at 72 degrees,” Timmons said. “If it ever hits 90 degrees outside, we should be good.”

Heating and cooling is one of the most difficult and costly parts of operating a building, and it works by either heating or cooling water and then forcing the hot or cold air over a room, Timmons said.

“We either have a boiler that’s heating water and a fan that then forces the heat over the rooms or cooling towers which are forcing the cold air across the rooms,” Timmons said. “In the (Gaspard Administration Building), we have tubes in the ceiling where water runs through and it’s either hot water or cold water. If it’s hot out it blows cold air, and if it’s cold out it blows hot air.”

Within the walls of the college, there’s a complex system of pipes and machines that takes care of the students and helps them keep their cool so they can be their best – without breaking a sweat.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Trying to make it cool at college

by Alex Heldrich time to read: 3 min