Why is it so cold in the REC?

By Jamia Richardson

Feb. 5, 2018

It's been a cold winter and with the first day of spring not until March, winter still has a ways to go. Students, bundled up for the walk from the parking lot to their destination, can feel like they are on a marathon. The Inner Link may make walking outside nonexistent, but the walk through the Inner Link can be chilly as well.

Some campus buildings have been pretty cold, especially Cleveland State’s Recreation Center. Complaints about the frigid temperatures came to faculty attention when the temperatures in the locker rooms hit the teens.

“We felt it was cold so we called over to Physical Plant,” said Nick Froelich. director of Campus Recreation Services, “and it happens when it gets cold outside, it does affect the building. All we have to do is call over and they correct it within two or three days.”

In this instance, it was frozen coils that caused the intemperate temperatures in the building.

“The issue with the rec center specifically is two of the units in the basement of the building had frozen coils and while we were repairing them there was no air to heat the building,” explained Director of Facilities Management Shehadeh Abdelkarim.

Froelich said on average rec center personnel might call Plant Services 30 to 40 times a year but it's not unusual. Froelich said they like to keep the temperature in the rec at 68 degrees Fahrenheit so that it's comfortable to work out.

Abdelkarim explained the science behind controlling the temperature, not only for the Rec center but also for every building on campus. As director of facilities management, Abdelkarim oversees all of plant services for the university and its properties.

Plant Services, also known as Facilities Architect Safety and Technology (FAST), provides maintenance for all of Cleveland State’s buildings on campus as well as other property that Cleveland State owns. FAST is responsible for quality and maintenance for Cleveland State whether it's as small as custodial service to the construction of the new Washkewicz College of Engineering building.

It isn’t uncommon for a drop in temperature to freeze the pipes or coils that filter air through the building, in fact other buildings might face the same problem as the winter continues. In the Rec, the perimeter heating, which is like a wall heating system, was working, but to fix the unit, workers had to shut the dominant system down.

“It’s important for them to call over and tell us if they are experiencing any discomfort so we can fix it. If they don’t call, we don’t know,” Abdelkarim said.

Abdelkarim is able to see the temperature in each building on campus. However managing the temperature in each building isn’t as easy as clicking a button on his computer. 

With newer buildings such as the Student Center, the Washkewicz College of Engineering, and the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Abdelkarim has full control and access to each room. For example, if he needed to change the temperature for Student Center room 340 he is able to do so.

Unfortunately for older buildings such as Fenn Hall and the Music and Communication building, it is more complicated, someone has to change it physically for the system to work properly. 

“If you’re in Music Building 215, I cannot see what’s going on in MU 215, but I can see what's going on with the air handler and raise or lower the temperature,” he Abdelkarim explained. “But I can’t change room MU 215 until I send someone over there to fix it.” 

For buildings on campus, FAST sets the desired temperature between 68F and 75F. But achieving it can require additional steps.

“It's not unheard of that we are injecting 120-degree air in order to warm up the space,” Abdelkarim said.
This injection comes into play when outside air and return air collide. Outside air is air pushed all the way through the building, or air that is only filtered through once. Safety regulations mandate the use of outside air in the science building because students and faculty dealing with chemicals can be dangerous.

At the Rec Center, clean air needs to be constantly filtered through because of hygiene issues.

Return air or recycled air, is air that is filtered through two or three times in the building. This air, found in most buildings, conserves energy in spaces like the communication lounge as well as classrooms.

Automated systems respond to the weather outside to calculate the temperature to be blown through the vents to create the desired temperature for the building.

Abdelkarim said FAST wants everyone to be comfortable, even if that means throwing in a personal fan or heater, but stresses that FAST needs to know if someone is uncomfortable. To reach Plant Services, dial (216) 687-2500.



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