by Adam King
Conlon, director of projects for Ohio State University (OSU) Facilities Design
and Construction, smiles as he talks about cheating the system. It sounds a bit
dastardly, but circumventing a standard practice will actually save Ohio State
hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
frankly, cheating a building’s chiller system is nothing to feel guilty about.
It’s merely putting more than 50 years of solid engineering principles into
current iteration, a chiller system takes heat from the water and makes it
colder. The cold water is used to cool the building in the summer months for
air conditioning, and the heat extracted by the chiller is typically expelled
to the outside air as waste. In the colder months, hot water is produced by
typically burning a fossil fuel to heat the buildings.
But Ohio State’s
cheat – a heat pump that sends the water through a series of 6-inch-diameter
holes bored into the ground – allows Mother Earth to keep the water at a
constant temperature of about 54 degrees. These geothermal wells allow
buildings to conserve energy, and use less capital equipment for heating and
cooling, which lowers maintenance costs.
relatively constant temperature allows the heat pump to add heat to the ground
in the summer and then extract the heat in the winter, similar to charging a
battery and then using the energy at a later date.
current projects that will use these wells, the South High Rises Renovation and
Addition (Park/Stradley, Smith/Steeb and Siebert halls), and William Hall
Complex, each expect to realize a 32-percent energy savings and a combined
minimum cost savings of $415,000 annually.
wells adjacent to Hale Hall, which will feed the South High Rise project, will
be completed in May. The parking lot formerly adjacent to Hale Hall will be
turned into a green space called the Hale Green, which will be sodded and ready
for use by the autumn semester. No structures can be built on top of the wells,
so it will remain green space. As part of the planning, Hale Hall eventually could
come down to create one large green space that stretches out from the South
Oval’s 259 wells won’t be complete until May 2013, and the South Oval currently
is scheduled for an October 2013 opening, although Conlon says that the project
team is working hard to find opportunities to expedite that schedule.
Hall Complex wells are being drilled in an inner courtyard, and are nearly
weren’t using geothermal for these projects, we would be using steam, and by
using geothermal instead, we can reserve the steam capacity for future
projects,” Conlon says. “But we’ll use virtually no steam for the heating and
cooling in these buildings, and that’s not even calculated in the savings.”
drilling was expected to be finished sooner, but hit a snag when it became
evident that the drilling method was not compatible with the subsurface
conditions at the South Oval.
OSU hired a
new drilling firm that is employing mud rotary. The new firm started on the
Hale project, and will restart the South Oval drilling this spring.
extended closure of the South Oval is disappointing for everyone, this
commitment to geothermal reinforces the university’s leadership position
regarding energy savings and sustainability,” Conlon says. “It will not always be an easy path, but it
wells have been used on one prior project, the Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Building,
which earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver
designation. But the wells weren’t as numerous there as in the current projects
because the 4-H building is smaller.
that people should expect to see more geothermal wells added as more projects
Residential District, for example, which currently is in a conceptual study
phase, and is to include 3,200 new student beds, dining options and a small
recreation center, has green space being planned that could support geothermal
wells. And the planning envisioned in the One Ohio State Framework Plan includes places
along the Olentangy River OSU could look to add wells to support potential new
academic growth around St. John Arena.
geothermal wells are fairly new to Ohio
State, the federal
government and the U.S. Military have been using the technology successfully
for more than 50 years. Numerous other colleges and universities also are
taking advantage of the wells’ benefits.
we’re adding so much energy consumption via air-conditioning to the South
Residential halls (which didn’t have A/C before), it would have been very
difficult to meet our own green-build policy if we hadn’t done geothermals,”
Conlon says. “It has really had a huge impact.”
This article is provided courtesy of Ohio State University
OSU Finds Efficiency, Savings in Geothermal Wells
February 28, 2012