Temperatures spike, plummet due to failing air conditioning

By Michael Santone, Advocate Staff

As students and staff begin to settle into the new General Education Building, the temperatures in different areas are too hot, or too cold because of a malfunction in its air conditioning system.

Since the start of the 2016 fall semester and the opening of the GE Building, Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King said he has been busy responding to calls about the chiller in the air conditioning system’s failures.

This causes the systems cold air to shut off, leaving the building without air circulation and creating a warm and stuffy atmosphere.

Last week, during one of its daily malfunctions, temperatures on the second floor reached 93 degrees, and nearly 98 degrees on the third floor.

This grabbed the attention of both students and staff, as they reached for windows and removed layers of clothing.

Student Sierra Schmidt said, “It (temperature) goes from pretty cold to hot. It’s hard to focus on my work.”

The constant change in temperature also has some students and faculty worried about the possibility of getting sick.

Liberal Arts Administrative Assistant Zolayma Martin said, when faculty have to leave their cold offices to sweltering classrooms, the temperature develops into a health concern.

“It’s too hot or it’s too cold,” Martin said. “The temperature is never right.”

A 2010 Harvard University study shows the extreme change in temperature can weaken an individual’s immune system, causing one’ s body to be vulnerable to viruses. Those viruses can be passed on other individuals. Anyone tolerating the failing system may face the same situation.

The air conditioning system failing multiple times in one day is not out of the ordinary.

The time of day it goes out varies, but the work it takes to rectify the problem is labor intensive.

It takes a total of 30 minutes to restart the system, King said.

This includes a maintenance crew member climbing to the top of the roof and manually resetting the system he said.

Lathrop Inc., the contracting company who worked on the $72 million Campus Center and Classroom project, is aware of the issues surrounding the air conditioning system and are troubleshooting the problem, King said.

This includes locating and assessing what, where, and why the system is failing.

Because there are multiple aspects to the air conditioning system, he said the problems could range from equipment and design issues to installation and programming, or a combination.

CCC Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong said Lathrop Inc., is working on the problem but “until they figure out the issues, they can’t send a technician out.”

Critical Solutions, the project management group that contracted Lathrop Inc. for the Campus Center and Classroom Project, has workers trying to locate the issues so that it can send a technician as soon as possible, she said.

The General Education Building is one of three new buildings to be fitted with Trane central air conditioning units, but it is the only building that is having issues, King said.

The system comes with a warranty that includes any system problems such as programming and design as well as any equipment replacements, Magalong said.

The warranty will also cover whatever is the cost for the technician to come out and fix the issues she said.