Stewart finally cools down
The male dorms in Stewart Hall will have air conditioning starting fall 2017. | Eliana Park/THE CHIMES
For the first time in Biola’s history, every single building on its campus will provide air conditioning in all of its rooms. Facilities management has finalized plans to put air-conditioning units in the men’s quad-style dorms of Stewart Hall during summer 2017. The units will be fully installed and operational by the time students return in the fall.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for many, many years,” said Brian Phillips, senior director of facilities management. “In the past… the estimates were consistently coming back at well over a million dollars to air condition just the quads.”
A breakthrough happened when Phillips and his team discovered a new air conditioning technology that proved far more affordable. The variable refrigerant flow system, designed by LG, will allow individual rooms in a quad to have different temperature settings. It can also provide both heat and cooling, which will eliminate the need for the outdated furnaces which currently occupy Stewart’s male rooms.
“This new technology allows us to create individual zones with each room, where before we were going to have each quad be a zone with a single thermostat,” said Jerrel Haugen, project manager. “[It] enables a thermostat in every room with its own unit for better control.”
Facilities initially tested out the new system when converting Emerson Hall into an office building. After deeming that a success, Phillips and Haugen, who also serves as Phillips’ central plant manager, once again turned their attention to Stewart with an effective solution finally in hand.
Male residents in the hall are eagerly anticipating the new units. While the women’s rooms in Stewart have been air conditioned for over 30 years, the men have had to survive the hot summer months without such a luxury.
“It was pretty terrible,” said Seth Subt, freshman journalism major and current Stewart resident. “We had two box fans and a ceiling fan going, and we always kept the windows open. The fans did dramatically help, but nothing compared to air conditioning. It can really be an oven in here.”
As a resident advisor in Stewart during the 2017-18 school year, Subt looks forward to helping the hall’s community adjust to the change.
“It’s definitely going to be a more desirable place to live in,” Subt said. “I know [the lack of air conditioning] has been a reason why people haven’t wanted to live here in the past.”
Even so, Stewart’s history and lack of modern amenities held a unique appeal, and the new air conditioning units will cause Stewart to lose some of that charm, according to sophomore public relations major Brian Marcus.
“I think we’ll be telling [next year’s incoming freshmen] stories and sharing fond memories of the times without air conditioning,” Marcus said. “Back in the old days.”