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A college’s HVAC system is incredibly important for the safety and comfort of students, faculty and staff. Colleges have evolved to practically 24-7, year-round operations. They always have people coming in and out, and their HVAC systems pump out an extraordinary amount of power and energy.

Colleges’ heating and cooling needs require dynamic and multifaceted systems that are adaptable, based on factors like size, climate and location. While colleges vary greatly in actual size of their physical location, they expend thousands of dollars per month on energy costs. Colleges and universities in the US spend an average of $1.10 per square foot on electricity and on natural gas annually. In a typical college classroom building, lighting represents 31 percent and space heating accounts for 28 percent of total energy use. Cooling also accounts for a considerable expenditure.

Rather than be forced to pass these expenses on to students, or worry how they affect hiring of quality faculty and staff, it’s best that your college’s HVAC system offers a blend of efficiency and performance that is scalable to your facility’s individual needs. Universal Mechanical Group has been partnering with New Jersey’s colleges with years to offer quality HVAC installation, maintenance and repair. Call our team today at (973) 866-5445 to see what we can do for your college.

The Importance of Proper HVAC at Colleges

New Jersey is known for its legendary culture of higher education and continued learning. The state is home to nearly 50 institutes of higher education, charging an annual average of around $16,000 per year. Each of these facilities requires a dynamic, intuitive and high-performing HVAC system.

Imagine, for a minute, the possible consequences of a faulty HVAC system at a college. At the very least, extreme temperatures can make life miserable for students, faculty and staff during the winter and summer. Attendance and enrollment can suffer as a result, causing the school to lose thousands of dollars in daily and long-term revenue.

On a more urgent note, malfunctioning or poorly maintained HVAC systems can have serious health implications, such as mold, moisture-related airborne illness and respiratory problems that can easily create a mini epidemic on your college’s campus. This includes the dorms, classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, labs and various other facilities.

Is Your College’s HVAC System a Liability?

The Chronical of Higher Education reports that mold on college campuses has become an urgent and pervasive issue across the United States. They also say that much of these problems are attributable to HVAC issues. Students are even suing their colleges because of what they say is a failure to properly maintain facilities. This is an example of how neglecting something basic like HVAC can open your college up to undue legal liability.

In addition to the thousands of students across multiple American college campuses who have filed complaints and even mobilized in class-action lawsuits, staff can also take legal action for what they can say is an unsafe or toxic work environment.

Just like in a math equation, there is a perfect and predictable formula for ensuring your college’s HVAC system is always running at peak performance. This happens to be installation + maintenance + proactive repair. Consider Universal Mechanical Group your professors in all three.

Factors to Consider When Installing an HVAC System at Your College

Need to install a new HVAC system at your college? Whether you’re expanding your campus, looking to upgrade or need to urgently replace your system, you probably have a ton of questions.

The process of determining which type of HVAC system your college needs starts with examining several key factors, including size, location, design and more. The reality is that no two college HVAC systems are the same, and each must be specially designed and configured to accommodate facility needs.

There are many different types of rooms and facilities on college campuses that require their own climate conditions, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Dormitories – Risk of moisture build-up in showers and other spaces that be exacerbated by poor ventilation and humidity.
  • Classrooms – Can be difficult to properly regulate the temperature in such large, open spaces.
  • Libraries – Prime incubators for dust, dander and allergens that can make visitors sick without the ventilation.
  • Laboratories – Climate control is crucial for the proper growth of microorganisms and that completion and collection of data, as well as the comfort of scientists, students and visitors.
  • Food-Service Areas – Critical to keeping food fresh, properly stored and safe for student and faculty consumption the whole year.

There are numerous other spaces that colleges will need to offer in an effort to effectively compete, and offer students a rich and diverse higher-education experience. The reality is having one single HVAC simply won’t do. Universal Mechanical Group is ready to help you make the right choice regarding which HVAC design is right for your college.

Common Types of Heating and Cooling Systems for Colleges

Single-split system designs will generally not work for colleges, as they are designed for smaller spaces, like cafes, small offices and other smaller-scale buildings. While you will undoubtedly want to make your own tweaks and personalization to your college’s HVAC design, there are several key commercial options of which you can avail yourself:

  • Multi-Split System – Multiple indoor units connect to a single, larger outdoor unit. Larger office spaces, diners, doctors’ offices and retail shops often use multi-split systems. Interior spaces that have many walls or multiple floors are often best served by multi-split AC.
  • VRF or VRV System – A variable refrigerant flow (VRF) or variable refrigerant volume (VRV) system is a heat pump using refrigerant in the heating and cooling lines. More than one evaporator connects to a single condensing unit.
  • VAV or CAV System – Variable air volume (VAV) or constant air volume (CAV) systems use a single-duct supply and return setup with varying airflow (VAV) or constant airflow (CAV) to keep temperatures at set points.

There are many opportunities for customization within these basic parameters. We’ll be glad to walk you through your choices.

Eco-Friendly and Cost-Effective Solutions for Your HVAC

Anyone who has ever spent time on a college campus in New Jersey, or anywhere else for that matter, understands that the environment and “going green” is a priority for many students. The reality is, however, that these priorities should rub off on everyone, including facility managers, as they can lead to significant cost-saving benefits. There are several key environmentally friendly HVAC options that can save your college bundles of money each month.

HVAC Commissioning

If schools are looking for a way to save on utility bills without replacing their current HVAC system, commissioning is a good option.  College campuses that commission their HVAC systems on average save 25 percent in energy bills annually.  For a 50,000 square foot college campus building, a $16,000 savings can be expected annually per building.  It costs $2,500 – $20,000 to commission that 50,000 square foot building, but the return on investment is seen within two years.

Geothermal HVAC Systems

Geothermal systems are 400 percent efficient, making them the most environmentally friendly systems available.  In addition, campus buildings save money through increased utility savings and very little need for mechanical service – no mechanical failures are possible with geothermal systems.

Geothermal HVAC systems also offer space efficiency.  The only equipment needed within the building are heat pumps.  There is also no need for a mechanical room or cooling tower, which makes this type of HVAC system ideal for urban schools with a limited footprint.

Building Automation System (BAS)

Building automation systems are yet another way to help your college save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Properties can save five to thirty percent on utility bills a year with a BAS.  Buildings will not be heating or cooling an unoccupied building or lighting an empty classroom.  Equip classrooms with light sensors to turn on and off with movement. 

The temperature can be set to automatically turn down during off hours and up before school begins.  An added benefit is increased Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).  A BAS can be set up to monitor temperature and humidity as well as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to ensure that IAQ is at its best. 

Let Universal Mechanical Group Help Your College Save Money and Keep Students and Staff Healthy

Universal Mechanical Group is committed to helping colleges all over the New Jersey, including Union County, Bergen County and the rest of the state. We have helped countless higher-education clients in Alpine, NJ; East Rutherford, NJ; Edgewater, NJ; Englewood, NJ; Franklin lakes, NJ; Glen Rock, NJ; Mahwah, NJ; Maywood, NJ; Palisades Park, NJ; Paramus, NJ or you own a larger fine-dining establishment or bar and grill in cities like Ridgewood, NJ; Rutherford, NJ; Saddle Brook, NJ; Saddle River, NJ; Ho Ho Kus, NJ; Demarest, NJ; Woodcliff Lakes, NJ and throughout the state keep their students safe, healthy and comfortable. Contact us today at (973) 866-5445 to see what we can do for you. We look forward to hearing from you.