Written by By Cynthia Parsons, CNN
Karen Erickson was in an elevator in her condo building when she heard a woman complaining.
“She said it was so hot she was wearing a jean jacket and she was going to a doctor’s appointment,” Erickson said.
Then she noticed: “Everyone else’s jackets were in the elevator.”
The climate inside Erickson’s building in Baton Rouge is strikingly different from the mid-Atlantic state. Over the past decade, Louisiana has become more dependent on oil than it has ever been, and the economy has struggled. In August, Louisiana was downgraded by S&P Global Ratings for its economic strength.
But Erickson, CEO of the Gulf Coast Institute for Conservation, says her experience with chilly air blowing in from the steam pipes below her condo may have been the norm in the past.
Outside, Louisiana’s concrete roads and Louisiana State University’s Baton Rouge campus ring through the morning air. Inside, the air inside the apartment is decidedly colder than the air outside, generating a sort of halo of heat and humidity that falls into your body when you step outside.
This hot and humid atmosphere is due to the connection between the temperature in Louisiana’s air and an office air conditioner above. (Technically, the above-ground cooling system treats Mississippi River water as a coolant. That’s part of the reason why it’s so often cooler than the two states on the other side of the river. But, theoretically, the cooling system should pump air with more moisture to the south of Louisiana’s air.)
To combat this air that feels muggy even in temperatures of 95 degrees, the Air Conditioning Code states that buildings must have state-of-the-art air conditioning as part of their boiler systems.
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