Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Webinar Promises Answers to Cooling Tower Problems

New York City sees it, and they don’t have a water shortage. Nashville Airport sees it, and they’ve got plenty of water.  I hear that even Disney in Florida is doing it. We’d all better know how to do it, or we’ll be playing catch-up. What is it?

“It” is cooling- tower-elimination by going to geothermal. If cooling towers were ever “cool’, they have lost their charm (LA Times; NY Times). Cooling towers in commercial buildings are the number two consumer of potable water, using more water than landscape irrigation or the office cafeteria/kitchen facilities. Only the restrooms use more water (national average) than cooling towers in commercial buildings.  

Tune in to a webinar sponsored by California-Geo on Thursday, February 4th at 11:30 a.m. PST.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Geothermal Advances That Are Engineered to Save Money

Evolo Condominiums Saved Money by Using
Thermally Enhanced HDPE Geothermal Pipe
I don’t like to admit it, but I’m becoming an “old-timer” in the geothermal HVAC industry.  Regardless, I have made a commitment to continue to look for better ways to do things.  If you need a quick review of geothermal heating and cooling, this article is a quick and fun read from Mechanical Hub; it should get you right up to speed.

Vertical Geothermal Loop U-bends
Most geothermal systems start with a vertical closed loop-field.  The biggest expense relative to geothermal systems is often the unseen, underground heat exchanger, made of High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE).  Drilling, HDPE pipe and labor combine to cause these loop-fields run up the cost of a geothermal HVAC system to roughly 3 times what a standard air sourced system might cost. 

When pipe manufacturer, “Versaprofiles” sent me some information on their “thermally enhanced HDPE pipe”, I didn’t have especially high hopes.  The pipe costs about twice what standard HDPE costs.  It is however 75% more conductive that standard HDPE pipe.  That translates to about 11% less drilling.  That doesn’t sound like much, but I went ahead a looked a little further. 

Loop Comparison Graph
I called an engineer that had specified the thermally enhanced pipe on the College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL Campus.  Norbert Repka, PhD was hard to pin down, and when I did get him on the phone, his first comment was, “I don’t know what I’ve got to tell you about the pipe; we’ve only just finished the drilling.” What I wanted to know was what made Norbert choose the pipe, and did he see an advantage. Norbert spent about 10 minutes on the phone with me.  

Norbert’s calculations showed that for their purposes, the pipe provides a 25% improvement in performance, and that they could save about 5% on borehole length. He said that with nearly 100 boreholes drilled they saved (eliminated) 5 boreholes due to the higher thermal conductivity of the thermally enhanced HDPE. 

College saved Tens of Thousands on
Loop Field with Thermally Enhanced HDPE
I looked into multiple projects, many of which showed even better results. St. Laurent Sports Complex completed in 2013 is another example of a project that saved considerable resources on loop-field costs.

New York City Transit Authority is planning a test with the thermally enhanced HDPE pipe on their facilities.  It’s no secret that New York is a hot bed of activity for geothermal efforts, thanks in part to the efforts of NY-Geo.  Anything that can save space and first cost is getting noticed.

Even with Norbert’s conservative calculations, he said the net savings were about $64,000. That means that if they followed the manufacturer’s estimated 11% reduction in borehole length (rather than the 5% they conservatively used), the savings might have been closer to $130,000. Either way, it was a win; both in time and money. In my opinion the pipe is a winner.  

St. Laurent Sports Complex completed in 2013
Saved Money and Improved Efficiency
This not-so-new pipe (it’s been around since 2009) will be featured in a product showcase on Wednesday at 3:30 at the IGSHPA Expo in Kansas City next week.

Industry Stakeholders have created a website with vast resources to educate the public on geothermal heat pumps.  The “Geothermal Day” Website aims to raise awareness about environmental and economic benefits of geothermal energy and its vital role in building a clean and secure energy future. We are inviting industry partners, communities, businesses and educators to join efforts to advance further understanding and acceptance of geothermal technology as an unlimited, renewable form of energy. Join us by co-creating and sharing educational resources and participating in interactive activities in local communities and on-line. 

Jay Egg is a geothermal consultant, writer, and the owner of EggGeothermal. He has co-authored two textbooks on geothermal HVAC systems published by McGraw-Hill Professional. He can be reached at   

Monday, September 21, 2015

Geothermal Workshop Atlanta; ASHRAE Building

GEOTHERMAL INDUSTRY EXPERTS are assembling at the ASHRAE Building in Atlanta, GA for a Geothermal Workshop on Thursday, September 24th, 2015.

Dr Xiaobing Liu, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will be presenting in this “learning laboratory” as he reviews the performance of the two systems heating and cooling ASHRAE’s Head Quarters.  Which systems performs best, and by how much and why?  You’ll get to see all the facts and figures here.

The program offers Continuing Education Credits! Field trips to other sites such as Serenbe are available.

Some of the other great educational opportunities include:

Paul Bony, Director of Renewables and Contractor Development, Electric and Gas Industry Association, Sacramento, CA: CONSUMER FINANCING - AN IMPORTANT (AND UNDERUTILIZED) BRIDGING TOOL FOR THE GHP MARKET

Deborah Fritz, Senior Associate, Lord Aeck Sargent (Architects), Atlanta, GA GEOTHERMAL: THE BENEFITS FOR ARCHITECTS AND THEIR CLIENTS

Paul McCarty, Mechanical Engineer, US Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, AL: GROUND SOURCE HEATING AND COOLING: HOW IT WORKS AND BASIC DESIGN CONFIGURATIONS


-and many more!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New York City GEOTHERMAL HEATING & COOLING WORKSHOP on September 9, 2015

St. Patrick's Cathedral has Geothermal
New York City GEOTHERMAL HEATING & COOLING WORKSHOP  on September 9, 2015 at the NYC Transit Building, 2 Broadway, NY, NY 10004

This program is geared toward building owners, potential end-users and professionals that design, install, finance, inspect, maintain, approve, recommend or regulate geothermal systems.

Geothermal is the most cost effective technology for reducing CO2 emissions, heating and cooling costs for buildings. This program will bring you up to speed on the latest technology applications in the ground-source heating and cooling industry. This is a MUST-ATTEND program for anybody wanting to retrofit or build new homes, multifamily units or commercial buildings.

The program will include continuing education credits:

The Geothermal Workshop in NYC on September 9th is featuring presenters such as Thomas Abdallah, Chief, Environmental Engineering, MTA New York City Transit NY and Samara Swanston, Legislative Attorney, NYC Council Infrastructure Division, Committee on Environmental Protection, New York, NY.

All attendees MUST PRE-REGISTER (registration and payment made by September 7 at 5PM) and show photo identification to security when entering the building. If you are not on the registration list you will not be able to attend.

The program draws on the experience & expertise of industry and agency professionals and will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of information among policy makers involved in energy issues and specialists involved with the design, construction and permitting of ground source geothermal systems for cooling and heating.  Geothermal has the potential to become the technology of choice among those considering “green energy” options for commercial or residential installations.  This one-day program is an incredible opportunity to learn from experienced professionals who are on the forefront of geothermal innovation.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Geothermal Cover Story in MN “Contractor Magazine”

Add caption
Interest in geothermal technologies is growing as more trade and general consumer magazines are making "geothermal" the topic of focus. The August, 2015 issue of “Contractor”,  the official publication of the Minnesota Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors saw that and ran with it.

I loved the art work for the cover and the article, and especially the fact that they are encouraging their readers to get in and get trained.  The article repeats, “Geothermal HVAC is the way the industry is going, and right now is the perfect time to get in. Here are some pointers that will help you to get involved and claim your piece of a phenomenal growth market.”

The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) and the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) are your resources for all of these efforts.

Don’t forget to get your name and support onto the National Geothermal Day website, These are the groups to which you and others can and should go to in order to get information, training, and to list your company as a geothermal heating and cooling entity.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pittsburgh Geothermal Field Trip: Frick Park Environmental Center

"Frick Park Environmental Center" Geothermal Tour
(Marijke Hecht and Arlene Anderson are Pictured at the Center)
Photo: Kirsi Jansa
"GEOTHERMAL" IS ONE WORD THAT SHOULD DENOTE A SINGULAR VISION in the collective minds of consumers; “Energy from the Earth”.

“Refreshing” is another word that describes how the Geothermal Direct Use Technology & Marketplace Forum was conducted in Pittsburgh on August 17th.

There is a good movement afoot at the DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and it involves “connecting” all of the ways that we harvest energy from the earth in a practical a sensible way.  There are certain situations where reservoirs of hot water are economically accessible for direct use in buildings, and there are even more opportunities (speaking geographically) to harvest low temperature geothermal resources, for “ground source heat pump” (GSHP) technologies.

The workshop involved an impressive cross section of expertise, featuring speakers from as far away as Iceland that shared their applied expertise on geothermal.

The day ended with a brisk forum in which attendees contributed real advice that will help government to provide real benefits to the geothermal industry. There will be a full report on these efforts on the DOE’s website soon.

Participants that were fortunate enough to stay over were treated to an impressive tour of Pittsburgh’s “Frick Park Environmental Center” on Tuesday, August 18th. Marijke Hecht, the Director of Education for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy conducted the tour.  Her passion for children, STEM education, renewable energy and sustainable technologies was evident. The tour ended at the geothermal loop-field termination inside the building.  Marijke said that since geothermal heating and cooling is all but “invisible”, she is going to leave a portion of this piping visible to visitors with a display explaining the geothermal heating and cooling process.

Arlene Anderson, Technology Manager at the GTO will attend the American Ground Water Trust (AGWT) New York Geothermal Workshop on September 9th, 2015. Arlene will also represent the GTO at the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association’s (IGSHPA) Technical Conference and Expo in Kansas City, October 5-8, 2015.

Ever since DOE employees attended a workshop/field trip to the Kentlands Community Center in Gaithersburg, MD where geothermal energy heats and cools the community center from a pair of standing column wells (SCW). They (the GTO) appear to be in “hot pursuit” of ways to facilitate more widespread implementation of deep direct use and geothermal heating and cooling. The GTO Systems Analysis and Low-Temperature Team that Arlene belongs to is benchmarking geothermal technologies that use low-temperature geothermal in the Eastern U.S. and other regions. Arlene said that the team is interested in understanding the potential for deep direct use and GSHP in the U.S.

The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) and the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) are your resources for helping in these efforts.

Don’t forget to get your name and support on the National Geothermal Day website. These are the groups to which you and others can and should go to get information, training and list your company as a geothermal heating and cooling entity.

Monday, August 24, 2015

President Obama Accelerates Transition Toward Geothermal

August 24, 2015-White House-President Obama is committed to taking responsible steps to address climate change, promote clean energy, and ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. That is why today he is announcing a robust set of executive actions and private sector commitments to accelerate the transition to cleaner sources of energy and cut energy waste. These actions will continue to expand opportunities to install energy saving technologies in households today, particularly those that need it most, while driving the development of low-cost clean energy technologies for tomorrow.

Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.  Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. In fact, distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 percent in 2014 alone and currently 44 states have pricing structures that encourage increased penetration of distributed generation.

Americans are also more empowered to capture opportunities to improve efficiency and cut energy waste into the amount of energy they are consuming. In fact, up to one third of households can track their energy use and learn ways to make choices to how to save on their energy bills. Since President Obama took office, the U.S. Department of Energy has already put in place appliance efficiency standards that will save American consumers nearly $480 billion on their utility bills through 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program continues to help save consumers more than $34 billion per year going forward.

The executive actions and private sector commitments President Obama is announcing today will continue to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help households save on their energy bills and help America transition to a cleaner energy sources.

Getting Geothermal Into School Curriculum

Specifically mentioned in the press release; Bosch is committing to dedicating part of its sales force to focus specifically on outreach to school districts in low income communities, as well as in extreme climate areas, where energy resiliency is paramount. These activities could include:

  • Working to educate stakeholders and decision makers in low-income communities about the opportunities and benefits of high-efficiency buildings, particularly schools.
  • Sharing critical information with stakeholders on how projects can be implemented in their regions, including case studies from existing Bosch school improvement projects.
  • Providing best practices on how other schools integrate energy efficiency projects into student curriculum and reinforce teaching and learning about energy conservation in the classroom.