Some like it hot, some like it cold


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Inside the new residence halls, copper systems can take the heat or air conditioning from one room and pump it into another.

At the touch of a button, students can control an eco-friendly adaptation called variable refrigerant flow (VRF), yet another update provided to the Shippensburg University campus by the Department of Facilities and Management.

If residents inside one room decide they want to lower the indoor temperature and residents inside another room in the same building wish to increase their room temperature, then the VRF system will pull the heat from one room and distribute it to the other.

A refrigerant flows through the pipes in the copper system which allows for temperature to rise or drop quickly. The greater the differential temperature between the two rooms, the faster the refrigerant can transform to the desired temperature. This uses the same basic process as any air conditioning system, even that of a refrigerator.

To demonstrate the science behind the VRF system, Lance Bryson, associate vice president of facilities management and planning, conducted an experiment to illustrate the system’s efficiency.
Two copper rods placed in a mug of hot water were warm to the touch after absorbing the water’s heat. One rod contained the refrigerant gas, while the other did not.

When placed in a mug containing cold water, the copper rod containing the gas changed temperature rapidly. The copper rod without the gas took several minutes to change temperature, illustrating the effect of the refrigerant gas.

Once the winter settles in and all of the students want their rooms to be heated, the VRF system will run on electricity, as it will in the summer when residents want their rooms to be cold. When the rooms in residence halls vary slightly in temperature, VRF can run without electricity by discharging air from one room to another. Shippensburg University Student Services Inc. covers the cost of construction of the new systems.

Residents of McLean II, Presidents Hall and Seavers Hall have VRF installed in their buildings. The three new residence halls being built in Phase II also will use the new system. Fan coil systems exist in the older residence halls and in the academic buildings.

Economic analyses were conducted to determine how cost-effective the addition of a VRF system would be in comparison to fan coil systems. Towson University’s VRF system was examined in the process that determined this to be the best option for the university.


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