Geothermal Heating/Cooling at Ross Helps Reduce Carbon Footprint

DSC_5703_2 Instead of relying on electricity or fossil fuels to heat and cool two of the largest Ross Upper School buildings, the Center for Well-Being (CWB) and the Media and Humanities Pavilion (Building 2), the school has been borrowing energy from the Earth to harness geothermal power. The main benefit of this method of heating is that it reduces the use of fossil fuels and, ultimately, the school’s carbon footprint.

Both buildings are served by separate open loop geothermal well systems. Building 2 uses a 250 gallon per minute system with a single supply well and two return wells. The CWB has a 500 gallon per minute system with a single supply well and three return wells. Both supply groundwater through the use of submersible well pumps that are installed in each of the wells. The pumps are electrically operated and are controlled via building management systems. The groundwater from the wells heats and cools both buildings in a once-through, non-contact, non-consumptive manner. Groundwater is removed from the supply wells, pumped into each building, passed through a plate and frame heat exchanger, and then returned to the subsurface shallow aquifer through the return wells.

“The process is highly efficient,” explained Tom Szajkowski, director of Facilities at Ross School. “This is an entirely environmentally friendly system and well aligned with our commitment to sustainability. The continuation of our geothermal use on campus to heat and cool our buildings reduces dependency on fossil fuels and the global warming and public health risks that result from their use.”

Tom also said the new and updated building management systems used to monitor the temperature in more than half of the buildings at the Upper School allow the programming of temperature variations for off-peak hours, thus reducing the use of energy and resources.

Geothermal power is gaining in popularity as institutions look to renewable, clean energy sources to help address urgent issues related to sustainability and the environment. Ross School remains committed to taking action in this area and others to bring about positive change in our global and local communities.