Extremes – Campus community adjusts to heating, cooling practices

UNA senior Amanda Bliss bundles up in her residence hall on campus. Bliss lives in Hawthorne Hall on campus and uses multiple blankets and other means to keep warm during the winter.

UNA is home to some of the oldest buildings in the state of Alabama, including Wesleyan Hall, but the historical value of the building might be lost on students this semester when temperatures rise or fall to extremes.

Even if buildings like Bibb Graves and Wesleyan Hall have problems, campus officials want students to know they are getting ready for changing temperatures.

“All our equipment is operational,” said Mike Thompson, assistant director of Facilities Administration and Planning, before explaining the reason some buildings have problems with temperature. “We’ve got climate control systems in the buildings that we monitor, but a lot of the buildings-you’re not able to have heating and cooling in the same building.”

According to Thompson, Rice and Rivers halls have one unit that heats and cools the entire floor, which can cause problems that students living in buildings with residential-styled heating and cooling, like Hawthorne, do not experience.

“I think we get reports every day with traditional residence halls,” said Kevin Jacques, director of Residence Life at UNA. “But the complaints we get are really a double-edged sword because we get calls that it’s too hot when others think it’s fine.”

Since they can’t easily change the temperature for the residence halls because of one or two reports, Jacques said they have other methods to determine if a change in temperature is a major problem.

“We actually have an infrared thermometer in our office, and if we get a report from a student that it’s too hot or too cold, we take measurements of the room as a whole, then report to housing,” Jacques said.

Because the heating and cooling in buildings like Rice and Rivers can’t easily be changed, Jacques has several suggestions for measures students can take if the heat or cold in their building becomes too uncomfortable.

“What we say is to get carpeting on the tile floors,” Jacques said. “Ten-by-ten remnants help make the room a little more homey. Extra blankets, socks, layers and fleece clothing also help.”

If the temperature is too warm, Jacques advises students to never open a window, because it can cause problems in the cooling system, and instead use fans or loose fitting clothing.

“If a student ever does feel uncomfortable, the main thing is to let someone know,” Jacques said. “Come by our office, or let housing know directly.”

Besides the residence halls, another key place many students have complained about extreme temperatures are in computer labs across campus, which many students have said are too warm in the winter or too cold in the summer.

“A lot of times with the labs, the computers are the culprit,” Thompson said. “The new Apple lab (in the communication building), we put it on an individual system. In the winter, there’s a limitation of what is being added to that system.”

According to Thompson, all the equipment is operational for the new semester, though the older buildings across campus have problems that can’t be fixed without creating a new building.

“Coby Hall just recently had some problems, but we have addressed those and fixed it,” Thompson said.

Thompson said Bibb Graves was recently outfitted with new equipment, but the main heating and cooling problems remain an effect of the old age of the buildings.

“We’re doing what we can,” he said.