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Early warm weather has campus cooling techs playing catch-up

The unexpected warm weather forecasted for this week has the potential to create difficulties for our department to meet the cooling needs of all campus buildings.  Here is why:

To cool the buildings, chilled water is circulated through the cooling coils of several hundred air handling units located in the campus buildings that push cool conditioned air to the occupied space.

Unlike the residential units, each year, majority of these cooling coils (1-8 per air handling unit) are drained as the cooling season ends and are re-filled back with chilled water when the cooling season starts. This is done to protect the coils from freezing during the winter. This is a time consuming process and it takes about 3-4 weeks to complete.

In a normal year, the conversion from heating to cooling mode starts in April.  This year however, we are having to start this process in a reactionary mode in early March and may not be able to have all the building on line in a timely manner to meet all your cooling needs.

To ensure an orderly conversion from the heating to cooling season, the following priority protocol is used:

Priority 1 (most critical): UW-Hospitals & Clinics essential operations

Priority 2 (critical): Buildings or rooms that have animals and are 100 percent outside air units, or involve temperature sensitive experiments and essential server rooms.

Priority 3 (intermediate critical): Buildings or rooms that have sealed windows, high heat generating equipment, high occupancy fluctuations.

Priority 4 (least critical): Buildings or rooms that have operable windows in majority of rooms for ventilation, and have no experimental activities that would be affected by high temperatures.

We hope this information is useful and thank you for your cooperation.

Campus physical plant department

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