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Geothermal Heats/Cools Building at Vermont College

Linda Hardesty

Energy ManageThe new 80,000-sq-foot Dion Family Student Center and Quad Commons Residential Hall at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., is expected to use 77 percent less energy than a comparable new building, based on computer energy models developed by the project’s mechanical engineer, LN Consulting.

The building utilizes geothermal heat pumps to extract heat from the ground as the primary heating source during the winter and reject heat during the summer to meet cooling needs. With a consistent temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the ground can serve as both a “heat source” and “heat sink” throughout the year, with the system boosting temperatures during the winter using energy-efficient heat pumps to achieve space set-points. This approach is reducing natural gas consumption by 95 percent for the building.

The walls and roof employ rigid foam insulation and efficient windows to provide for natural light while still reducing heat loss. Energy recovery systems are included as part of the ventilation systems to capture remaining heat from exhausted air. Lighting is provided by a mix of natural daylighting, high-efficiency fluorescents, and LEDs, cutting electricity use by 40 percent compared to standard lighting practices.



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