The Columbia Housing Authority Installs Geothermal
The work at Oak Tower is the next phase of a plan to revitalize public housing in Columbia, housing authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said.
“This is just another step toward renovating all 719 units of our property,” Steinhaus said.
Oak Tower, built in 1966, is the oldest building run by the housing authority.
The housing authority plans to convert Oak Tower’s air conditioning system to a ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system with heat pumps, which will allow residents to set their own unit temperatures, something they cannot do with the antiquated system now in place. Over the years, radiators used for heat have begun to calcify. With this new system, that won’t happen. The advanced heating and cooling system also will save the authority money on utilities.
“When we installed” the geothermal unit “at Paquin … we saved over $100,000 in utility costs the first year,” Steinhaus said. “The housing authority is paying for the utilities because apartments weren’t individually metered, and you want to have energy-efficient systems, so that was a huge piece in the renovation of Oak.”
Another key renovation, Steinhaus said, is converting eight units to full accessibility for people with disabilities. The authority also plans to upgrade elevators, install new cabinets and countertops, replace lighting and add ground circuit interrupter outlets, which help prevent shocks if there are shortages and are required under current building codes.
The housing authority will rely on a mix of federal and state tax credits, loans, bond sales and cash reserves to pay for the project.