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With age comes problems for old dorm heating systems

March 13, 2018
First year accounting grad student Alyssa Pratt walks to class on Jan. 16, 2018. "(The winter), it's beautiful, but painful," Pratt said. (State News | Annie Barker)
First year accounting grad student Alyssa Pratt walks to class on Jan. 16, 2018. "(The winter), it's beautiful, but painful," Pratt said. (State News | Annie Barker) —

In the winter months, staying warm is key, but in the older buildings at MSU, the students are sometimes a bit too warm. 

MSU’s campus has old buildings and architecture, but with age comes problems, more specifically, the buildings' heating systems. 

Physics sophomore Sarah Lienard, who lives in Mary Mayo Hall, said the temperature of her dorm room surpassed 100 degrees during winter break. 

“While my roommate and I were off to winter break, we went back home and we — I'm pretty sure, I know I closed my water heater off, and I’m pretty sure she did the same as well. However, when I came back, I was the first person back into the room after break, April’s (roommate) water heater was burning hot and the room was maybe 110 degrees," Lienard said.

Lienard said her room was so hot that everything mounted with adhesives melted off the wall, the plants were brittle and the candles in their room had melted.

"I looked up how hot it had to be for a candle to melt, it was about 110 degrees, literally in the room, so my estimate was about correct," Lienard said.

Graphic design senior Danielle Pasco said she thinks the temperatures in older buildings are not regulated enough.

“I live in Van Hoosen Hall and it's always hot in there, like, they have the heaters on 24/7, I can’t shut them off and I come in from 20 degree weather and it’s 90 degrees inside, and it’s so hot," Pasco said.

The problem is rooted in the age of the heating systems — some buildings do not compare to the newer systems in place in other buildings around campus. 

“Old vs. new, a lot of it is the systems that we use for heat are different," Stacy Nurenberg, service manager for Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, said. "A new system that we use is more energy efficient because it only uses the heat it needs, so you can vary the amount of heat you deliver, whereas an older building is just on or off."

Nurenberg said generally, anything in north campus is considered "older" and anything south of the Red Cedar River would be considered "newer."

"A major difference as well is steam vs. hot water heat," Nurenberg said. "All buildings use steam to heat as the source of heat, but at a room level, it's whether or not it’s hot water circulating through the building or it's directly steam."

Every year, capital renewal funding goes toward reinvesting in on-campus buildings where things are past their life cycle, Nurenberg said.

"Sometimes things are higher priorities than others," Nurenberg said. "Each year, we have to prioritize where to invest that money.”

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