Paquin Tower to upgrade boilers, pipes with stimulus funds

Work intended to boost energy efficiency
Thursday, September 24, 2009 | 1:58 p.m. CDT; updated 9:25 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 24, 2009
The heating system in Paquin Tower will receive $1.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for energy savings improvements. Currently, residents in the building's 200 units cannot control their rooms' heat unless they open their windows. Once the improvement project is completed, the building could save up to 42 percent of its current heating costs.

COLUMBIA — When the weather is coldest outside, it can get pretty hot inside Paquin Tower.

The Columbia Housing Authority, which has operated the building since 1973, has been awarded $1.8 million in stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make energy saving improvements to Paquin Tower. 


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The improvements are intended to fix an aging heating system that causes problems for residents on upper levels of the 15-story building, which has a total of 200 apartments. The building primarily serves people with disabilities.

"Residents are unable to control the heat in their rooms other than opening windows when it gets too warm," housing authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said in a news release. "This often causes a chimney effect in the building during winter months with residents opening windows on the upper floors due to overly warm temperatures. This results in cold air being drawn up through the floors below and increased energy costs."

T.L. Pratt has lived in Paquin Tower for 10 years, and he said his 14th-floor apartment can get pretty toasty.

"During the winter sometimes I've got both windows open, both fans going and short pants on," Pratt said.

Peggy Byland, who also lives on the 14th floor, has experienced problems as well. 

"Half the time I keep the radiator off during the winter unless it gets below zero," Byland said.

Steinhaus said in the release that major parts of the energy-saving project include replacing boilers, boiling pipes and air-cooled condensing units, as well as upgrading the ventilation system and first-floor heating ventilation and cooling.

Steinhaus estimated the building will save 42 percent of its heating costs through the project. He was unavailable Thursday to say how much money that might be.

"These improvements will greatly increase the quality of life for residents of Paquin Tower and greatly extend the life of the building," Steinhaus said in the release. "Our aging boilers and system of pipes and radiators constantly need repair and are not very energy efficient."

Steinhaus also said the work would contribute to the the city's efforts to decrease its overall energy demand, and the grant requires that green building practices be adopted. The practices will be in accordance with the Green Communities Criteria.

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Charles Dudley Jr September 24, 2009 | 6:34 p.m.

>>> residents in the building's 200 units cannot control their rooms' heat unless they open their windows <<<

Tis true folks as this aging building is still very structurally sound it is quite something when the aging boilers are turned up to get that heated water up to the 15th floor. Some of you might remember the heated piping in your school room's flooring long ago. This is the same type of system only through a small radiator on the outer wall of each unit with no on or off valve.

It has been quite interesting because with opening your windows to use as your thermostat and other residents on your floor doing the same there is alot of air coming in under your unit's door due to how the building ventilation itself is set up to work.

When you opened or close your door under these condition is creates a vortex or vacuum effect that causes your door to slam if not held onto. This goes both ways to of either drawing air through your unit going outward or it could be backwards air flow coming in.

Back in the 1970's when this building was constructed it was one of the ways to help tall buildings to ventilate was by a central air shaft helping to pull air upward and a vent in the bath room to pull air under the unit's door to actually pull air through each unit to "ventilate" the entire building.

Now we know there are better systems that have been developed of coarse.

Any and all improvements will make Paquin Tower alot more green friendly.

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