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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Woodland Hills

Pierce Inaugurates New AC System

November 16, 2000|GRACE E. JANG

After more than 50 hot summers without air-conditioning, Pierce College now has a highly sophisticated, $6-million cooling system--one of only 20 like it in the nation, officials said.

Installation of the hybrid power plant, which uses electricity and gas, began earlier this year as part of the college's energy conservation project, initiated four years ago. On Wednesday, Pierce held a dedication ceremony, at which officials from the Southern California Gas Co., Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and aides to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) praised the campus for its environmentally conscious efforts.

The new computer-controlled system pumps cold water throughout the campus, then fans blow air over the cold-water pipes to cool the classrooms. Computers control individual room temperatures "just with a touch of the keypad," said heating and air-conditioning supervisor Frank Vitone.

The system is equipped with occupancy sensors that adjust the temperature according to the number of people in the room, said consulting mechanical engineer Kevin Smola of Kevin Smola and Associates Inc.

"So you don't have to rely on the last person who leaves the room to turn everything off," Smola said.

Because Pierce installed the new energy-efficient system, the Gas Co. gave the school $26,564, said Cathy Maguire, spokeswoman for the company.

"It's basically an incentive . . . to help with installation, because the system's going to be using electricity as well as gas," Maguire said.

Wednesday's ceremony was a momentous occasion for the students, faculty and administration, said Joy McCaslin, vice president of student services.

"Woodland Hills is about the hottest spot in the Valley," McCaslin said. "Students now have a comfortable environment to enhance learning."

The system has been installed in most campus buildings, with the entire project expected to be complete by summer, Vitone said.

"We've had cases of students leaving class because it got so hot," he said. "Sometimes we had to call in the paramedics. So we're really excited about this."

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