Building Temperatures

Person under large tree with leaves changing in autumn

With the changing seasons, we experience unseasonably cold or warm weather on some days during the spring and fall. Because the large systems needed to heat and cool more than 130 campus buildings don’t allow for daily adjustments, indoor temperatures can fluctuate significantly during these daily weather changes.

Steam Heating Systems

Steam provides heat to the majority of buildings on the Lawrence Main Campus. Turning the steam on and off to keep up with fluctuating temperatures is inefficient and can put a stress on the building systems. Therefore, we wait for more consistent outdoor temperatures to make the switch for the season. In the past, Facilities Services would watch the weather and decide on a certain date to make those switches to all campus buildings. Our more recent approach is to address each building separately, since each building has its own unique needs. While the energy savings may not be as impactful, individual buildings should more comfortable than in the past.

Cooling Systems

Many of the mechanical cooling systems on campus require hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of gallons of water. Running water through these systems with outside temperatures below freezing risks freezing lines and causing significant damage to our buildings and piping systems. While a tertiary factor, startup of these systems also increases our energy usage. To help protect our buildings and conserve resources while balancing the needs of the campus community, we wait to start the cooling systems in the spring until overnight temperatures are consistently above freezing. This can result in some warm days in KU buildings before these systems are turned on in the spring. It may also result in warmer days in our buildings when we have unseasonably warm winter days, since cooling systems will not be on to put our buildings in balance. During these periods of transitional temperatures, our teams will be ready to do what we can to make building spaces as comfortable as possible.

Maintaining Comfortable Workspaces

Our goal is to maintain a building temperature between 69˚F and 76˚F depending on seasonal conditions. If you find an area to be too hot or cold, or that seems to be outside of the target 69˚F to 76˚F range, please submit an online service request or call 785-864-4770. Please provide your name and telephone number along with the specific location. Our staff will investigate to ensure all equipment is operating correctly and make any necessary adjustments.

While we want you to be comfortable in your workspace, safety is our number one priority on campus. Unauthorized use of space heaters in university buildings is not allowed due to safety and environmental concerns. Space heaters are a significant fire hazard and use excessive amounts of energy. Using a space heater can also cause discomfort to others in your area, because building thermostats read a higher temperature where the space heater is operating and communicates to the system to leave the heat off. Special exceptions may be made for space heaters, but they must be approved by the University Fire Marshal in coordination with the KU Energy Office. If you require a space heater based on a medical condition or disability, please contact the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility at 785-864-4946 or All other exceptions should be requested through Facilities Services at 785-864-4770.

As a university community, we want to be good stewards of our environment and our utility budget. Campus heating and cooling procedures are guided by KU’s Energy Policy. For additional energy tips, visit KU’s Energy website.

If you have questions or concerns about building temperatures or KU’s energy policies and procedures, please contact us at or 785-864-4770.

Additionally, we will make ourselves available to discuss the unique heating and cooling aspects of each building if you would like to hear more.