Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 25 2013

From MiForum: Why Are Function Rooms Too Cold or Too Hot?

Submitted by Anne Carey, CMP, Member, GMC Communications Committee

I'm at number 11 hotel out of my 14 hotel road trip this month. Can anyone at a hotel tell me why it's impossible to regulate the air temperature in a ballroom? We have alternated between people so cold they are asking for blankets or tablecloths to wrap in, to being so hot they are sweating and nearly asleep. WHY can't a ballroom be regulated to stay at a constant temperature? If it were just one or two women in sleeveless dresses that are cold I usually dismiss it, but when men in jackets are cold, you know the room is not adjusted.
We ask for the temperature to be set at 69-70 but have been anywhere from 62 to 80 throughout the day. The meetings range in size from 60 to 200 people with ballrooms sized accordingly. It doesn't seem to matter how many people, what size room or room location within the hotel.
Any suggestions on how to stop the drastic fluctuations?
Kathleen Zwart, CMP
Corporate Meeting and Travel Service Manager
Florida Blue, a trade name of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc.

There is no one answer to your question.
Air-conditioning systems vary widely depending on size of room, area of country and a host of other situations.
At the very base of it, it could be that the engineering department isn't quite attentive enough.
But, you have huge variances in the rooms as to the size of events, the height of the ceiling, the number of people in the room, and the number of doors that are open or shut.
Air-conditioning systems are designed, simply, to dump thousands of gallons of chilled air into a given area every few minutes. How the venting and return system is set up, and where those vents are, can make huge differences in how quickly the room cools down.
And remember, hot air rises, and cold air drops to the ground. So, if the room gets too hot, when you turn the air conditioning on it will dump a tremendous amount of cold air on the people below. Simply turning off the air conditioning doesn't let the room warm up right away. Some of that cold air has to dissipate, mixed with warm bodies in the room, and mix and change temperature with hot air above it.
Even with a sophisticated system of input and exhaust fans it is never going to be the same temperature everywhere in a given space at the same time. This is one of the reasons why you may frequently notice that, going into a ballroom for the first time for a meeting or meal, it is very cold. That is because they know they have to chill the room down, because in a few minutes a lot of warm bodies are coming into the room, and a lot of doors will be open, allowing the cold air to spill out into the pre-function space. If you like to leave a lot of doors open while your meeting is going on, even a couple of large double doors, you lose a lot of air conditioning very quickly.
The more sophisticated a system, the better it is able to regulate temperature within a certain small range. But, those systems can become very, very expensive. Many hotels do not install something that sophisticated.
Frequently, what you have in many hotels is a system that merely pumps out cold air or warm air through a forced air system and it mixes as it will. It does help to keep as many doors closed as possible and keep air of any type from escaping into the hallways.
But, unless you are attentive, and have an attentive engineering department that is responsive to your request, you may experience wide fluctuations depending on the system.
Steve LaManna
APG Displays
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