The climate is changing, resulting in hotter, prolonged weather patterns and an increased need for cooling. Many campus spaces and buildings rely on natural ventilation for cooling, with mechanical cooling (using electricity to create cool air) traditionally prioritized for data centers, large lecture halls, libraries, research spaces and other areas where cooling is essential to program needs. Some UW units have in the past used department funds to pay for the installation of one-off supplemental cooling units in their buildings, but this has resulted in a decentralized, inefficient system that is unsustainable at the campus level.

The UW’s long-term strategy is to expand the capacity and efficiency of the central cooling plants as part of a broader UW Energy Transformation. To avoid further decentralization in the meantime, requests for temporary, seasonal, or permanent installation of supplemental cooling units, even when paid for by department budgets, will only be approved in certain circumstances.

Required criteria

Environmental cooling refers to cooling during seasonal/extreme weather events in personal environments, such as offices, study spaces, classrooms and lounges. Requests for supplemental environmental cooling will only be considered when excessive heat significantly affects critical research, renders a space unusable for greater than one month in a single year or creates a safety violation as confirmed by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) and where an alternative location to perform the work done in the space cannot be found.

Process cooling refers to cooling needed to maintain machinery or equipment used for programmatic or academic research functions. Requests for supplemental process cooling will only be considered when excessive heat significantly affects critical research, impacts the functional performance of critical machinery or equipment or creates a safety violation as confirmed by EH&S. 

All new supplemental cooling requests must be approved by the head of the requesting UW department or unit. A fee of $2,700 will be charged for the Environmental Cooling Evaluation needed to consider each new request.

Please allow four to six weeks for new requests to be reviewed. If you are facing an emergency situation, please indicate that as part of your request.

Service options