Temperature flow system expanded

By Amy Goldhagen

NIU’s Physical Plant is expanding its computerized system which monitors the heat and cool air flow in university buildings.

Expanding the service to the Office of Campus Recreation and Lincoln and Douglas Residence halls is estimated to cost $385,000 said Conrad Miller, Physical Plant assistant director.

Miller said the system’s expansion is part of an on-going process which will eventually connect all buildings on campus. Miller added that expanding the system has been a major concern since the early 1980’s, when energy conservation became an issue at NIU. The system currently monitors the temperature of 29 buildings on campus, which have been added to the system in stages, he said.

The system’s main purpose is to save energy. “A major advantage of this system is that it allows us to lower the temperature in buildings not used during weekends or holidays,” said Miller.

Ron Beldon, a mechanical engineer for the Physical Plant, is in charge of the project. “This system will save the university a great deal of money. We expect the system to cut the electrical costs by 15 percent for each of the buildings,” Beldon said. The system should pay for itself within three-and-a-half-years.

Beldon said the system, which should be fully operational by next summer, is designed to turn on and off the heating and cooling systems, control the fans that distribute warm and cool air and monitor the temperatures in the buildings.

The newly added buildings will house two to three Distributed Control Units, each interconnected to as many as 32 fan motors, pump motors and temperature sensors. These DCUs will be connected to the host computer in the East Heating Plant by underground cables, said Beldon.

Miller said the system is an attempt to avoid using more heat than necessary in the buildings. Miller said the Physical Plant is unaware of any present problems regarding the temperatures in the buildings, but the new system will help them in monitoring the temperatures.

Sheryl Mullis, area coordinator of Lincoln and Douglas halls, said temperature control has not been a problem this semester, but that any problems should be reported to the resident assistants so the heating plant can be notified.