Senior housing makes strides with geothermal energy

Posted on: February 14th, 2014
Senior housing makes strides with geothermal energy

Senior housing makes strides with geothermal energy

Around the country, communities are beginning to focus more of their efforts and budgets on energy-efficient practices and solutions. Particularly in the building and design process, it makes sense to consider these strategies. By implementing eco-friendly systems such as geothermal heating right from the start, residents can enjoy the cost advantages immediately. The advantages of geothermal heating extend beyond savings as well. The fact remains that these solutions can provide users with a more comfortable environment due to a more even, consistent temperature. From schools and businesses to residences, many buildings are reaping the rewards of geothermal heating. Now, an increasing number of senior housing facilities are making the switch to these systems as well.

Worthy investments
The Daily Freeman reported that the town board of Woodstock, N.Y., has approved a $1 million renovation of the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center, which holds senior programs. These plans entail not only the expansion of the center, but also efforts to make the facility more energy efficient. The revamping calls for a geothermal heating and cooling system, and board members expect this will be far more effective than the current system, which tends to leak energy.

“It will be warm in the winter, because right now it’s drafty in the winter, and will be cool in the summer, because right now it’s stifling in the summer,” town supervisor Jeremy Wilber explained to the news source.

Another similar facility that’s in the midst of construction will take advantage of geothermal heating. According to the Franklin Sun Journal, the Brookside Village Affordable Senior Housing complex in Farmington, Maine, is one of the first multifamily buildings in the entire state to not use any fossil fuels. Instead, the two-story building will leverage 228 solar panels on its roof for electricity and use a geothermal system for heating. During the summer, the solar photovoltaic system will provide excess electricity back to the grid, which will then build up to pay for the increased electricity required during the winter. Along with other green building features, these sustainable systems qualify the net-zero complex for a multitude of certifications, such as LEED, Energy Star and MaineHousing. A major benefit of these efforts is that residents will enjoy far more affordable heat, hot water and electricity costs.

Benefits for all
Meanwhile, other senior centers are going even further with green efforts. The Loveland Reporter-Herald reported that the three-story Mirasol Senior Community building utilizes a geothermal exchange system and a solar collector system on its roof. That means there are no air conditioning units or water boilers at all. Instead, the center of heating operations lies in the basement with a closed-loop heat exchange system.

“If we can get the operating costs down, we can pass that on to our residents – that’s the goal,” said Mike Hersh, maintenance technician supervisor for the Loveland Housing Authority, as quoted by the source.

The geothermal system was implemented after the League of Women Voters of Larimer County held a forum to discuss clean energy options. Loveland Housing Authority maintenance supervisor Bill Rumley expects that the investments in the solar panels and geothermal exchange will pay for themselves within a decade.

“This is where I believe it’s going,” he told the news outlet. “This is the future – it’s solar, PV (photovoltaic) for electricity and geothermal.”

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