Temperatures not yet high enough for A/C in some WIU academic buildings

Sherman Hall in Fall

With the warm weather that we had this weekend, many WIU buildings are feeling pretty warm and muggy. With that in mind, questions regarding Western Illinois University’s Air Conditioning protocol usually arise. In an email that was sent out back in March, Monte Colley, who is the Associate Director of Operations and Maintenance for Facilities Management, noted factors that come into play when transitioning from heat to air conditioning.

The transition from heating to cooling some buildings is not a decision that is made with the recently warmer temperatures. Some concerns arise with the need to protect the aged equipment in some buildings so heating and cooling can be provided to the campus each season. There is a danger of equipment failure if the system is turned on or off too early. If something was to break on the aged heating and cooling systems, it would take about 6 to 8 weeks to get replacement parts.

Many of the buildings on campus are two-piped. So both pipes in this case would be used for either heating or air conditioning. The change over would also take a lot of time as it is not automated. This is a process that would take many hours of labor, especially if Facilities Management had to drain the systems to prepare for a cold snap.

With the need to protect the equipment and to allow adequate time for Facilities Management to prepare the heating and cooling system, they require that the high temperatures be at or above 80°F for three consecutive days and lows at or above 50°F.

Facilities Management has provided NEWS3 with a list of buildings that can or cannot switch over between A/C and Heat automatically.

Bayliss, Brophy, Browne, Commissary, Currens, Henninger, Horrabin, Knoblauch, Lincoln, Malpass Library, Memorial, Morgan, Sallee, Stipes, Tanner, Thompson, Tillman, Waggoner, and Washington Halls all do not have automatic switchover for air conditioning. Those buildings require the lengthy and physical work of draining the system and getting everything switched over whether it’d be heat or air conditioning.

Seal, Sherman, and Simpkins Halls can partially be switched over automatically. So special sections of each building, whether it’d be window air conditioners or recently remodeled sections, can be switched easily.

Alumni House, Annex (Heating Plant), Beu Health Center, Corbin, DPS Building, Football Training Locker Room, Garwood, Mowbray (OPS), Grote, Olson, Student Recreation Center, Thompson Dining Hall, University Art Gallery, University Residence, University Service Building, University Union, University Village, and Western Hall have capabilities to switch over automatically between heating and air conditioning.

A quick clarification for Thompson Hall; the residence part of the building does not have the automatic feature for switching back and forth between heating and air conditioning. The Thompson Dining Center does have the automatic feature to switch.