Heating & Air Conditioning in the Dorms

Heating & Air Conditioning in the Dorms

Published: 
01/11/19

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 two different methods of heating and cooling in our undergraduate dorms: Direct Expansion and Fan Coil/Unit Ventilator systems. Because of the different systems, the process for turning the heat on varies by building.

Each dorm has a different plan to switch over to heat or air conditioning, which has been approved by your Hall Council. Some buildings use a petition system (requiring a percentage of the building to sign) and some look at the weather forecast. For dorm-specific information please reach out to your resident assistant (RA).

Here’s a basic description of each system by dorm, including some of their unique characteristics:

If you live in:

  • Honors Village
  • Pima Lodge

Honors Village and Pima Lodge have a Direct Expansion System. This system includes an AC unit in the building and a condenser unit that is located outside the building which offers both heating and cooling ‘on demand’ (and thus provides the most flexibility to the resident’s needs).


If you live in:

  • Hopi

Each student room in Hopi dorm has a direct expansion window AC unit, which means it only offers only cooling from the window unit. Heating is available only from a wall radiator system available after steam is turned on to the building. Hopi has two separate systems to heat and cool student spaces.


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 dorms have a Fan Coil/Unit Ventilator Two-Pipe System: This system uses high pressure steam to heat the building. The entire building is in either heating mode or cooling mode. The changeover from heating to cooling or vice versa is made manually, and there is always the possibility that unusual weather patterns may cause some occupants temporary discomfort.


If you live in:

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

These dorms have a Fan Coil/Unit Ventilator Four-Pipe System: Much like the two-pipe system, this system uses chilled water and steam from the central plant. The four-pipe system includes a distribution system that contains both hot and chilled water supply. While this means that heating and cooling is usually available on demand without a manual changeover, in some small cases, a four-pipe system may not always provide heat comfort to all the occupants. In these cases the heating will not kick in until the outside temps drop below 60 degrees.