A student’s complaint brings attention to difficulties heating university building

By in News

For one arts and science student at the University of Saskatchewan, the temperature in the Arts Building has made sitting in lectures an uncomfortable experience. Taking action, the student in question has formally complained in an effort to take the heat off the situation.

Shyann Vaskevicius, third-year anatomy and cell biology major, sent a complaint to Student Central after talking with her friends about the discomfort they all felt in the Arts Building.

“I’m so uncomfortable in my hour-long class. Half an hour into sitting there just writing notes, I shouldn’t be sweating,” Vaskevicius said. “I found the [Thermal Office Conditions Guidelines] online, and there’s no way it’s that cold in there because it feels so much hotter.”

The U of S Thermal Office Conditions Guidelines state that thermal comfort — not feeling too hot or too cold — is significant, as it contributes to one’s well-being and productivity. Under these guidelines, thermal comfort is determined by six factors: the metabolic rate of those in a room, clothing, air temperature, radiant temperature, air speed and humidity.

 

 

For Vaskevicius, thermal discomfort is not limited to the Arts Building but is a common issue in the university’s older buildings.

“I also notice it in some of the other older buildings,” Vaskevicius said. “We pay so much — is it so hard to get a normal temperature year round?”

Vaskevicius’ complaint was forwarded to Patrick Houser, Safety Management Systems co-ordinator at the U of S. Houser responded to Vaskevicius’ email, saying that thermal discomfort is often due to logistical problems in regulating the temperature of large old buildings in certain seasons.

“We get complaints about this, generally in the fall and in the spring when outdoor temperatures can be unseasonably warm or cool, which obviously affects the heating and cooling systems in the buildings,” Houser said. “Some of the buildings are also large and take considerable time to change temperature. There are also warm or cool spots in most buildings due to the floor plans and changes to floor plans.”

Wade Epp is the associate vice-president of Service Design and Delivery, an initiative at the U of S that aims to improve the university’s administrative services. Epp says that the heating systems of older buildings at the U of S can’t always keep up with the weather changes.

“The larger buildings run through a boiler system that isn’t as responsive as your typical house heating, [which] can fluctuate between hot and cold more quickly,” Epp said. “It’s a much larger system.”

Despite being a source of complaints, Epp says there are no plans to change the current systems. However, he believes that Service Design and Delivery responds adequately when there is an issue to fix.

“We try to be as effective as possible when things do need to be switched over,” Epp said. “More importantly, we try to communicate effectively when those changes are happening, so users of those buildings can be aware of when things are changing and they can dress accordingly and adjust to the temperature.”

Vaskevicius believes that dialogue about thermal comfort through complaints can yield results.

“I feel like they will be more conscious about it this winter, and it will get better because we are talking about it now,” Vaskevicius said.

Epp encourages students who notice abnormal temperatures to contact Facilities Support Services at (306) 966-4496.

“We have facilities agents that can take a call, and contacting our health and safety group would also work,” Epp said. “We will review those concerns, and if something is out of the ordinary, we can respond quickly so that people are not only safe but comfortable as well.”

Ana Cristina Camacho / Staff Writer

Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor