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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Univ advises building changes during heat wave

Published: September 3, 2010
Section: News

With temperatures in the upper 90s this week, the university asked all members of the Brandeis community to turn off extra lights, close windows, avoid extra electrical use and close shades facing south, south-east and south-west in a statement sent on Monday from Peter Baker, director of facilities services.

“The systems are not designed to handle temperatures and humidity above the 90 degree level,” university Energy Manager Bill Bushel said.

Baker said they asked that “systems that were not critical or necessary be shut off.

“Where possible, scale back electricity usage by shutting off power consuming equipment that isn’t being used,” he wrote in the statement.

The hot start to the school year has been uncomfortable for many students sleeping in dorms with no air conditioning, but Baker explained that it would be too expensive to install central air conditioning in older buildings.

“The reality is that these buildings were never designed with air conditioning [in mind,]” Baker said.

He said that it is a far better use of money to use it for construction than to retro-fit old buildings. All academic buildings and new residence halls have air conditioning, Baker said; however some dorms in North and Massell Quads, the Charles River Apartments and the Foster-Mods do not.

Students with a medical need for cooler air may submit a request to the Department of Community Living, along with a doctor’s note, and an air-conditioning window unit could be installed.

Baker said he thinks that window units overall would be a “pretty inefficient” way of cooling a building.

“These are sort of common sense things,” Baker said, discussing the requests from Facilities Services. “When everything’s [running] at it’s maximum, it really makes a difference.”

Temperatures are expected to drop significantly this weekend as tropical storm conditions are anticipated Friday and Friday night, effects from Hurricane Earl.

The hurricane is expected to hit Cape Cod and the islands as well as parts of South East Massachusetts between Friday and Saturday.