The way our air conditioning system works at NJIT is actually more exciting than you might think. Truth be told, I’ve had my weird experiences with having a heater catch fire when I was still living in Redwood, but after learning about what the guys over at the Specht Building do, you can’t help but feel a little impressed with the systems working to keep you comfortable at NJIT.
Starting our tour, I had a chance to talk to Mr. Boris Shapiro, Executive Director of Technical Services. He, alongside a team of less than 20 people, is responsible for keeping you comfortable in regards to heating and cooling at NJIT. Now, while that number seems low, the systems they implement into our air conditioning units more than make up for the small personnel.
The men and women of Specht who run the HVAC systems around campus have control over a wide network of ventilation systems that can be monitored through a single computer. If there was a problem with the air conditioning at GITC, they could easily detect the problem and send a mechanic in there immediately to fix the issue. If there was a problem at the Honors College dorm, they could easily find that problem using the same computer to detect these issues. In each building, each room has their own ventilation system connected to that one network. Each HVAC unit has monitors on every part of the system, from the cooling system to the heating system, where they could detect the temperature of each individual part to figure out problems.
In order to make the whole system more energy efficient, they employ multiple cooling systems to reduce the total workload of one valve. Each individual HVAC unit has multiple controllable values and valves that control the temperature of the air. In terms of cooling, NJIT also uses at least two chiller systems per building. This allows the team to ensure optimal cooling and heating but with higher awareness of room temperature, and a reduction in energy expenditure by combining the chiller temperatures to reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the system.
After talking to the guys behind the IT part of the system, I then met up with Mr. Mark Massa, Project Manager at the Specht building, who gave us an inside look into what most NJIT students would consider the unknown. To my surprise, the systems in place to keep us comfortable in the Campus Center are a lot more technical than I thought. The way technology is bought and used for our ventilation systems is through a bidding service. As Mr. Massa put it, “it allows the best technologies at the best prices to be used to keep our students comfortable.” NJIT is not reliant on one single contractor and company, which means we have better independence to find the best of the best chillers, network systems, web servers, ventilation units, and other HVAC needs within budget and energy consumption.
Some of the secrets I found out about the Campus Center’s heating and cooling systems is that it doesn’t just keep the Campus Center comfortable, but also other parts of Fenster; including the bio-med labs and the President’s office. In order to ensure that it will be able to do that, even if the system breaks, there is a third set of cooling and heating devices alongside the first two active ones. They don’t all operate at the same time as to avoid overhead, but the third set works as a much needed backup unit should one fail.
Overall, the whole tour of what the men and women of Specht do was amazing. Did you know that, if they wanted to get fired, since they have access to all of the HVAC units of all of the rooms on campus, they could go into the president’s office in Fenster and set his office’s temperature to below freezing? Of course they would never do that, because they would get fired, but that is how much control they have over the system. Without the men and women who work on the HVAC systems around campus, NJIT could have been a lot colder amidst all these winter storms.