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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

IPF provides spring cooling reminder to MSU


April 11, 2014

Focused on safety and sustainability, Michigan State University follows a systematic and environmentally conscious plan when cooling campus buildings during the warmer months of the year. Each year, MSU expects to be ready to provide cooling to campus facilities in mid-spring. An exact date is dependent upon weather trends and sustained above-freezing temperatures.

Many factors are weighed when preparing campus buildings for cooling.

  • MSU bases the schedule on campus priorities, starting with the need to make sure research projects are not impacted by weather changes.
  • Once the decision is made, staff requires at least two weeks to finalize the process for starting up the air-conditioning equipment.
  • The timing of the decision is critical, because it is not economically or environmentally feasible to finalize the process more than once each spring.

MSU uses steam absorbers to convert steam from the T.B. Simon Power Plant into chilled water to provide cooling for a number of campus buildings. Buildings that use this process are switched seasonally. The cooling process for steam absorption includes:

  • Absorption chillers convert steam from the power plant into chilled water for cooling purposes.
  • Excess heat is transferred from the building to water which is circulated to a cooling tower and released into the air.
  • After it has been filled, if cold weather (below freezing) returns, the water in the tower and the water lines could freeze and cause damage.

Some campus buildings are electric-driven and air-cooled. Electric chillers use electricity to produce chilled water for cooling purposes. Those buildings have the ability to cool all year long.

By taking each of these factors into account each year, the cooling plan for campus and other energy conservation measures ensure that the campus community has a safe and “Spartan Green” spring.

To report problems or ask questions about your heating or cooling equipment, call (517) 353-1760. If the problem is not urgent, you may alternatively e‐mail IPF Dispatch.

MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities builds and maintains the physical environment for Michigan State University’s education, research and outreach missions, and directs the university’s sustainability initiatives and long-term infrastructure planning goals. The unit’s experienced team of professionals keeps MSU running 24/7/365, delivering an immense menu of services and providing expert analysis for university objectives. Call (517) 353-1760 for emergency service.