Campus Air Conditioning

The normal start-up date for campus building cooling systems is April 15th, and Facilities is on track to meet or beat that date this year, with the following exceptions: 

April 16th - Dennis; Noyes; Goddard Auditorium; Lilly Library; Runyan Center; Earlham Hall (including dining hall)

April 22nd - Athletics & Wellness Center

Two factors are driving these delays:

• First is a condition discovered during the Center for Visual & Performing Arts construction.  The chilled water loop pipe through that area is far shallower than indicated on campus utility maps or dictated by good practice, so it needs to be re-set much deeper in the ground.  While this work is being done, the AWC will not have cooling.

• Second is a failed chilled water valve in Runyan.   That valve must be working properly to isolate the arts center and AWC parts of the loop, and allow the rest of the system to operate normally.   Replacement valve has been ordered, and should be installed by Tuesday, April 16th.

Once the chilled water loop and building-wide systems are up and running, Facilities staff will install window units in all areas that had them last year.  There is no need to submit maintenance work requests for this process.
I would like to thank Darrell Shepherd, Cindy Callahan, Mike Smock, Bob York, John Edmonds and Scott Nolte for their discernment and hard work to minimize the cooling system disruption due to these unexpected problems.  Without their best efforts, the dates listed above would be significantly later.

As an aside, I have included background information for those inclined to learn more about why I will never be bored here.

Thank you all for your patience, as I know that the recent, unseasonably hot weather must have been uncomfortable for some.  As always, please feel free to ask questions or share concerns.


Cooling System Coverage

Buildings on the main "chilled water loop" for air conditioning:

Athletics & Wellness Center; Tyler; Dennis; Noyes; Stanley; Goddard Auditorium; Lilly Library; Runyan Center; Earlham Hall (including dining hall)

Buildings or parts thereof with independent, building-wide air conditioning systems:  Bolling Center; Olvey-Andis; Barrett; Warren / Wilson / Mills; Admissions South; Service Building; Carpenter 1st floor administrative suite

Buildings with no central air conditioning, except for window units:  Carpenter (except for Goddard Auditorium and administrative suite); Hoerner; Bundy; Stout Meetinghouse; campus houses

Computer network server rooms have their own, independent cooling systems, run 24/7/365, and are not included in the spring and fall cooling / heating transitions.

Why We Do What We Do

The fall and spring switch-overs require a lot of skilled, thoughtful labor, and so are not something that can be done one week, and then undone the next if the weather changes.

Fall cooling system shut-down is normally scheduled to happen right after Homecoming, depending on consistent night time temperatures below 40 degrees F. The cooling towers that provide cooling capacity for the main system contain water, and must be drained before freezing weather in the fall and then filled after the last hard freeze in the spring.  If the towers were filled with water during an extended, hard freeze, the resulting split pipes and other damage would be very expensive($100,000+) to fix, and if it happened in the spring, would mean uncooled major buildings well into May or even June.  So, we are very cautious about both the fall draining and the spring filling.

The main system saves many tens of thousands of dollars per year in annual utility costs (my rough estimate), at the price of reduced flexibility during the fall and spring transitions.

The heating and cooling systems for the Warren / Wilson / Mills dormitories were designed in such a way that they can either provide heat or cooling (but not both simultaneously) and require a fair amount of skilled labor to switch back and forth.   Other buildings on campus with cooling capacity have the ability to run both heating and cooling without Facilities intervention, so their occupants are not at the mercy of a late spring cold snap.

With typically volatile Midwestern fall and spring weather, all of the above combine to guarantee some number of unhappy building occupants during these transition seasons.  I am convinced that the skill and dedication applied every day by our experienced Facilities staff keep this dissatisfaction to a minimum, and this spring was no exception.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admissions