Air Conditioning and Heating in the Dorms

Air Conditioning and Heating in the Dorms


Each winter, Housing & Residential Life addresses the question of when to turn the heat on. You may be under the impression that it doesn’t get that cold in Tucson; however our dry desert air will start to cool off steeply at night in the winter months. When several hundred people live in one building, this can lead to a challenge as we try to meet everyone’s needs.

The University of Arizona currently uses three different methods of heating and cooling in our dorms, which are outlined below. Because of the different systems, the process for switching from cooling to heat varies by dorm.

  • For building specific information, please reach out to your resident assistant or Community Director.  
  • For general questions or concerns, please contact our housing office at 520-621-6501 or

Below is a basic description of each system by dorm:

If you live in:

  • Hopi
  • Pima Lodge

Hopi and Pima Lodge have a direct expansion system, which generally means it offers both heating and cooling ‘on demand.’

If you live in:

  • Árbol de la Vida 
  • Colonia De La Paz
  • Likins 
  • Pima House
  • Posada San Pedro
  • Pueblo de la Cienega
  • Villa Del Puente

These halls have a fan coil/unit ventilator four-pipe system. This system contains both a hot and chilled water supply. This means that heating and cooling is usually available on demand without a manual changeover. But, in some cases, a four-pipe system may not always provide heat comfort to all the occupants because of the current daily temperature.

If you live in:

  • Apache-Santa Cruz
  • Arizona-Sonora
  • Babcock
  • Cochise
  • Coconino
  • Coronado
  • Gila
  • Graham-Greenlee
  • Kaibab-Huachuca
  • Manzanita-Mohave
  • Maricopa
  • Navajo-Pinal
  • Yavapai
  • Yuma

These halls have a two-pipe system. With this system, the entire building is in either heating, neutral (off) or cooling mode. The changeover from heating to cooling or vice versa is made manually and takes time for the system to change over. Therefore, unusual weather patterns may cause some occupants temporary discomfort.

Changes to heating and cooling include:

  • Fall semester – air conditioning, to neutral air, to heat
  • Spring semester – heat, to neutral air, to air conditioning

In these two-pipe system buildings the process for change is outlined below:

  • Community Directors (CDs), professionals who live in each building, monitor heating and cooling in the building and, in consultation with student residents, make decisions on heating and cooling stages.
    • Student feedback can be obtained through multiple methods, including but not limited to, email, online surveys, consultation with hall council, and consultation with Resident Assistant staff.
    • CDs will consult with their supervisor before requesting changes to the heating and cooling.
    • To change from one system to the other, CDs then put in a request with Housing & Residential Life’s maintenance staff.
  • In addition to the CDs’ in-hall monitoring, the Housing & Residential Life Director of Facilities and Associate Director of Residential Education will monitor weather forecasts in the 85719 zip code on the Weather Channel. If the forecast calls for three consecutive days with lows below 45 degrees or three consecutive day-time high temperatures of 65 degrees or lower, the maintenance staff will switch to heat in all halls. 
  • For general questions or concerns, please contact our housing office at 520-621-6501 or