The weather in Raleigh is often unpredictable. From days of extreme heat to weekends with severe thunderstorms, it can be difficult to navigate the natural elements. At Meredith, these changes have caused issues with the heating and cooling systems. HVAC systems have needed repairs that have impacted class scheduling and students’ living situations.
Many students, including Cambria Chandler, ‘26, had complaints regarding the temperature irregularities. She stated that “the temperature in the residence halls has been awful” and that the heat has made it difficult to sleep at night. As a student athlete, Chandler commented on how the heat impacts her and her teammates after conditioning. She stated that they are “often very hot and overheating” and that “the halls are brutal to walk through for how hot it is in them.”
Chandler also noted how unreliable the HVAC system can be. “It took a week for the [HVAC system] to switch to cooling for it to not even work,” she stated.
Todd Lechner, Director of Facilities Services, explained that the buildings are on a computer-controlled system and that they “follow the industry standard of 72 degrees for [Meredith] set points for all buildings.”
Lechner stated that “the residence halls have a unique configuration that requires our HVAC technicians to manually perform the changeover from heating to cooling and cooling to heating.” He explained that Facilities Services have to consider other factors, such as how long the change takes and how occupants on higher floors in residence halls will be impacted. “The facilities department makes its recommendation to Residence Life and The Residence Life team ultimately makes the decision on the appropriate time to execute the switchover from heating to cooling or vice versa,” he explained.
The variability of weather in North Carolina also plays a role in how effective the HVAC system is. Lechner noted that these temperature changes impact their decision-making year round. “This makes it difficult to determine the appropriate timeframe to execute the heating versus cooling decision for the residence halls,” he stated.
The Herald reached out to Donna LaHaye and Sam Distefano from Residence Life for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
Beyond weather-related changes, there were also repairs made to the HVAC system in Lux in early February. The building experienced extremely high and low temperatures that led to most classes being held on Zoom or cancelled altogether. Lechner stated that “the HVAC team has replaced multiple steam control thermostats on the radiant heaters throughout the building which allow[s] the wall radiant heaters to modulate the temperature independently” and that since then there have been no further issues.
Regarding the heat in the academic buildings, Chandler stated that “even some classes are hot and make it hard for students to focus on their studies when they are worried about overheating just sitting in their classrooms.”
Chandler also added that she believes an update to the heating and cooling system is necessary because it appears “out of date and not efficient.” However, Lechner believes that “with the various heating systems installed, we are very fortunate to have such a highly skilled HVAC team to evaluate and repair these very different types of equipment.”
By Riley Heeb, Reporter