HHS’s ventilation system makes heating, cooling complex task

Eva Baker, Reporter

One is frigid. Another sweltering.

The temperatures at Hershey High School can vary greatly from room to room and even day-to-day. Mark Anderson, Derry Township School District’s buildings and grounds manager, is in charge of the system allowing certain rooms to be heated and cooled. The ventilation system at HHS is much larger and far more complicated than a home heating system.

Anderson said that Hershey High School’s heating and cooling mechanics has two main settings that influence the room most, occupied or unoccupied. Some of the colder rooms that are not occupied regularly, according to the system, such as the auditorium, are not heated. When the network declares a room unoccupied, it is not heated, because that would be a waste of money and energy.

He also said that classrooms are not heated individually rather by wing. The hallways and rooms of a wing should, theoretically, be the same temperature because they are operating under the same mechanics. It is not perfect though, because there are many factors that could influence the temperature.

One of the most prevalent factors is the sun. Depending on sunlight exposure, classrooms may be heated or cooled faster than others, according to Anderson.

Another factor that affects temperature of the rooms is windows. Opening and closing windows said Anderson increases or decreases the temperature in a classroom depending on the weather.

Personalized heating objects are another contributor to the changing temperatures of a classroom. They can change the temperature to better suit the wants of the teacher, but this is not allowed because it is both a waste of energy and according to Anderson a major fire hazard.

These factors create the biggest difference between the school’s heating and a houses’. At home it is a smaller area and can specify the needs better, but at school it heats or cools the place as a whole said Anderson. For example, when one room is at a good temperature, but a room across the hall is calling for cooling. The system will cool both rooms.

The classrooms are supposed to stay at a constant temperature, but there are some outliers such as Lindsey Nester’s classroom, which is hot and humid especially during the warmer months.

Nester said she likes it, but knows it is hard on the students going to a different temperature so fast. She tries to leave the door open to cool down the room.

“The thermostats don’t work,” Nester said.

In the classroom, thermostats only change the room by three degrees at most according to Anderson. This is because a teacher would drastically change the temperature in one direction to try and heat or cool the room for that day. The next day they would find the room in an extreme temperature opposite of the day before because they forgot to change it back to a moderate temperature. It would also confuse the generator when one room needs cooling and the other heating. To remedy this issue, the school limited it to a three degree change to help keep classrooms consistent and conserve energy.

“The system’s dated, but not necessarily outdated,” said Anderson. The unit in the high school is 18 years old, and is younger compared to the middle school and elementary school. In the other schools, they have trouble controlling the humidity levels.

Over the summer, the high school will undergo a 60,000 dollar update for a new system.

The original mechanics of the system will stay the same. It will just become more technologically advanced allowing Anderson to be able to change the heating and cooling of the room from his phone by declaring a room occupied or unoccupied.

This project will take over four years to complete. They have already tried a few rooms in the main office, working through some technical challenges.

Anderson said, “Normally, the building comes back to temperature pretty quickly. It’s a well insulated building.”