Allegheny College Energy & Comfort Policy


Strategically manage heating and cooling to maintain comfort of interior spaces while maximizing efficiency and sustainability.

Specify the acceptable range of temperatures for both heating and cooling seasons, for both occupied and non-occupied time periods, and the process for reports of discomfort.


Heating and cooling campus buildings requires significant annual funding allocations and generates significant carbon emissions. Since Allegheny is committed to financial and environmental sustainability, it is crucial that we have a sound energy management strategy that balances comfort, cost and sustainability. In the past, temperature management has not been consistent across our campus. In order to develop a consistent and reliable policy and strategy to maintain occupant comfort, Allegheny developed a detailed policy based on several operating energy policies at other higher education campuses. When heating and cooling spaces, even small shifts in temperature represent significant amounts of energy consumption and carbon pollution. For example, moderating the temperature by just one degree during the heating season could annually save up to $22,000 and reduce our campus carbon footprint by up to 182 metric tons, equivalent to taking 38 passenger vehicles off the road for a year or planting 4,676 tree seedlings! Strategic and responsible energy management is an essential tool in our efforts to become climate neutral by the year 2020.

Heating Season

  • Occupied Target: 67-70 degrees
  • Non-occupied Target: 55-65 degrees. Buildings with consistent evening use, sensitive equipment, animal colonies or labs may require additional heat at times.
  • Occupied/Non-occupied Hours
    • Administrative buildings: Occupied 8am-5pm, Non-occupied 5pm-8am
    • Academic buildings: Occupied 8am-5pm, Non-occupied 5pm-8am. Occupied hours may be extended in buildings with consistent and significant evening use, sensitive equipment, animal colonies or labs.
    • Residential buildings: Residence halls are consistently occupied, however heat may be moderated to 65-69 degrees from 10pm-7am.
  • If you have the ability to control a radiator or other heating element within your office, turn the heat back to a 1 or 1.5 setting when you leave for the day to avoid heating an unoccupied space overnight. You can turn it up to comfort when you return in the morning.
  • For safety reasons, personal space heating devices are not permitted on campus. If Physical Plant is unable to maintain the temperature within the specified range, a campus approved space heater or radiant heat mat will be provided. Space heating devices must be turned off when a space is not occupied for both safety and efficiency reasons.

Cooling Season

  • Occupied Target: 72-76 degrees
  • Non-occupied Target: all air-conditioning will be turned off from 4pm-8am in most buildings. The Wise Center, Campus Center, science labs and television studio may require additional cooling at times.
  • Students are not permitted to have personal air-conditioners unless ADA or medical reasons necessitate. Students must receive approval from John Mangine.
  • Staff in un-air-conditioned buildings are encouraged to use natural ventilation and fans for comfort whenever possible. If a window air-conditioner is necessary it should be managed responsibly. Staff should moderate the temperature to no lower than 72 degrees. All units should be turned off at the end of the day and even when the office is unoccupied during the day.

Comfort Suggestions

To maximize your personal comfort and energy efficiency:

  • Wear seasonally appropriate clothing and dress in layers.  Keep a sweater in your office.
  • Use natural ventilation from open windows and/or a small fan to moderate temperature when the heating and air-conditioning are not running.
  • Close windows and exterior and vestibule doors if heat or air-conditioning is on. This includes ensuring storm windows are in place where they exist. Report doors and windows that are not closing tightly or feel drafty.
  • Adjust blinds or curtains based on season and time of day. Sunlight can impact the temperature and your comfort.
  • Keep furniture at least 6 inches from all thermostats and vents.
  • Move computers, lamps, and other heat-generating equipment away from the thermostat.
  • Rearrange furniture to move your seat away from exterior walls, windows, or air vents.
  • Swap workspaces with a coworker with different temperature preferences.


Requests for Service

If temperature related discomfort is reported, Physical Plant will take the following actions:

  • Measure the temperature and other comfort factors including humidity and air movement.
  • If the temperature is within the range recommended by the policy, they will take no action to alter heating or cooling setpoints. They may still seek ways to provide greater comfort as detailed above.
  • If the temperature is outside the range recommended by the policy, they will make every effort to correct the problem using the tactics above, altering heating or cooling set-points, or providing a space heating device if necessary.

Transition Seasons (Fall and Spring)

In the spring and fall, outdoor temperatures can change rapidly from hot to cold – even within the confines of a single day. This ‘shoulder season’ represents a very challenging time of year in terms of maintaining comfortable and consistent interior space temperatures even as the outdoor temperature varies from day to day and even within a day. The mechanical systems in most of our campus facilities are not able to react to rapid changes from heating to cooling (and vice versa). Since the weather is fickle, and varies from year to year, we ask for the cooperation of the campus community during the transition seasons. There is not an exact schedule for activating heat or air conditioning, but we do our best to keep everyone as comfortable as possible.