The PHA has a long history of taking steps to make its 16 hi-rises, 4 family housing development and 400+ scattered site homes “green” and environmentally sustainable.
District Energy St. Paul’s district hot water system heats four of the PHA’s hi-rise apartment buildings (10 W. Exchange, 545 N. Wabasha, 261 E. University (Valley) and 469 Ada (Dunedin)) and 298 townhome units for families at Mt. Airy Homes. The PHA’s W. Andrew Boss Building at 555 N. Wabasha, that houses the Central Administrative Offices, is connected to District Energy heating and cooling systems.
The W. Andrew Boss Building (completed in 2004) was designed and constructed to meet the high standards for a “Silver” designation by LEED (Leadership thru Energy and Environmental Design). On a site previously used only for surface parking, the building includes these environmentally friendly elements:
- Provides easy access to public transportation
- Exceeds current energy code standards
- Collects site storm water in a rain water garden
- Boosts heating and cooling efficiency with solar control louvers over the windows on the building’s southern exposure
- Makes optimum use of daylight
- Uses District Energy hot water and cooling; no boiler or air conditioners on site.
Energy Audits: The PHA retains consultants to conduct energy audits of its properties and incorporates feasible recommendations for energy improvements in its capital needs planning. Xcel Energy has been a valued partner in these efforts by covering most of the cost of the energy audits.
The PHA has made incremental improvements over many years to reduce energy and water usage at its 4,272 public housing apartments, including installing
- Water-saving faucet aerators
- Reduced-flow shower heads
- Water-conserving toilets
- Lighting retrofits
- Weatherstripping and
- Additional attic insulation.
The PHA has also taken steps to improve indoor air quality in its family units by installing bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans that are connected to the rooms’ light switches, to ensure they will be used.
The PHA was one of the first property owners to install a computerized energy management system (EMS), that enables staff and contractors to remotely monitor and control heating, ventilation and community room air conditioning (HVAC) at all 16 public housing hi-rises. As the technology has improved over the years, the PHA has made many refinements to its EMS. The current EMS conserves energy, reduces emissions, promotes resident comfort and greatly reduces the staff time needed to monitor and control HVAC systems. The PHA also has upgraded hi-rise boilers to use more energy-efficient modulating-type burners and installed dual-fuel burners, to allow the PHA to switch from natural gas to fuel oil when requested by Xcel Energy. Using “interruptible” natural gas reduces the PHA’s energy bills year-round and helps Xcel Energy meet the community’s demand for natural gas during peak usage periods. The PHA has also installed small summer-only domestic hot water boilers to allow the large boilers to be shut down when space heating is not required. The PHA has installed more efficient radiation pumps and variable speed drives on its air handling equipment to save energy. The PHA is installing solar-assisted heating at one hi-rise, with a HUD grant from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA, the Stimulus Bill). Other energy- and water-saving improvements funded by HUD-ARRA grants are described below.
The PHA has made various “green” improvements in the course of maintaining and renovating our existing housing inventory that was built between 1952 and 1974. Our largest modernization project, a $35 million renovation of McDonough Homes, included the installation of underground storm water management storage tanks and other storm water management improvements as requested by the local Watershed District.
In 2009 the PHA submitted six grant applications requesting almost $16 million in ARRA funding under HUD's Capital Fund Recovery Competition (CFRC). Two of our applications were approved, for a total of over $7 million. The grants will pay for lighting improvements, window replacements, boiler replacements, refrigerator replacements and toilet replacements at six PHA hi-rises. The PHA moved quickly to obligate the funds: Over 95% of the funding was committed through competitively bid contracts just five months after we received the grants.
Click on the links to view the PHA Board Reports for approval of contracts for lighting improvements and toilet replacement contracts (awarded January 27, 2010) (contracts 10-066, 10-067, 10-070 and 10-071), and window replacement and boiler replacement contracts (awarded the February 24, 2010) (contracts 10-073, 10-074, 10-076and 10-077). Due to the economic slowdown, the bidding climate was favorable for the PHA. As a result, the PHA was able to award contracts for the same types of improvements in two more hi-rises than originally planned. The boiler replacement work at the Neill Hi-Rise will include the installation of roof-mounted solar water heaters that will preheat the domestic and space heating water to reduce the boiler loads.