Education systems across the country are increasingly realizing the benefits of geothermal energy. As board members learn more about renewable energy and how it can not only minimize schools’ impact on the environment but also reduce spending, these systems have become more popular. In fact, some facilities are already beginning to reap the rewards of switching to geothermal heating.
A green transformation
According to The Baltimore Sun, Patuxent Valley Middle School in Savage, Md., has not been renovated since it opened in 1989. However, the The Howard County Board of Education recently approved a major facelift to the school in order to extend its lifespan and offer a more comfortable environment to students. The news source noted that parents began to complain about signs of aging at the facility last fall, which spurred the board to consider allocating some funding to revamping the building. The $27.1 million project includes the implementation of a new electrical system, mechanical system and also a geothermal HVAC system. The work is scheduled to begin next winter, and if all goes according to plan, they should be completed by August 2017. Bruce Gist, the school system’s director of school construction, noted that he expects the renovated school to be achieve certification from the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design due to the use of geothermal technologies.
The Montreal Gazette reported that Bishop University in Quebec, Canada also invested $8 million into a geothermal energy system for the campus. The school has seen a significant reduction in costs as well as green house gas emissions due to this technology. Principal and vice-chancellor Michael Goldbloom announced that in just one year, the school has lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by 66 percent and saved a remarkable $500,000 in heating costs, in addition to millions of liters of water. The switch to the geothermal system took three years to complete, and was made due to the university’s commitment to shrinking its environmental footprint.
“It is a testament to our hard work and commitment to fight against climate change,” said Goldbloom, as quoted by the news source.
A lesson in sustainability
Meanwhile, students at the Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, Calif., are catching on to the advantages of clean energy. According to the Los Altos Town Crier, eighth-graders at the school recently presented 3-D projects to a panel for the nationwide 2014 School of the Future Design Competition, which is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The students designed their environmentally-responsive sites using the school’s lab technologies. Roxanne Lanzot, the science and math teacher who led the project, explained that the process began with collecting data at the school and then using those findings to conceptualize sustainable structures. Some of the features utilized in these models included green roofs, organic gardens, solar-panel shades and of course, geothermal heating. Torrey Wolff, campus space planner at Stanford University and one of the panel judges, was impressed by the students’ awareness of the importance of eco-conscious design.