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‘Stormproof’ Geothermal Systems Get a Post-Hurricane Boost

November 8, 2012 By Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

Hurricane Sandy’s havoc wrecked on fuel tanks, cooling towers and air conditioners has convinced some building owners to switch to geothermal systems, The New York Times reports.

David E. Reardon, the manager of geothermal drilling for the Miller Environmental Group, tells the Times he’s been receiving calls from people wanting estimates on geothermal systems. In some cases, their HVAC systems were destroyed by the storm, he says.

Because geothermal systems don’t use fossil fuels or mechanical systems that are exposed to flooding and high winds, this heating and cooling technology is looking more appealing to building owners that can either repair their old hurricane-damaged system or replace it with geothermal, Reardon says.

More geothermal systems are installed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the US, the Times reports.

The newspaper says more than 100 geothermal projects are in operation in New York’s five boroughs, and most systems are in institutional buildings, multifamily residential buildings and small commercial buildings, including the American Institute of Architects, the Times Square TKTS Booth, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Queens Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo Lion House.

A geothermal heat pump system can reduce the annual energy bill of a building by 30 to 60 percent, Zoe Reich, an environmental specialist who heads the sustainability department at the engineering firm Edwards & Zuck, told the Times.

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, for example, was paying $200,000 annually for heating, cooling and electricity in its 50,000-square-foot building with conventional methods. After installing a $675,000 geothermal system in 2007, it expanded to 110,000 square feet and provided energy to the additional 60,000 square feet for only $50,000 more, the newspaper says.

In October, Middlesex Community College flipped the switch on a geothermal project on the Bedford campus, expected to save the school $6,524 and 5,392 therms annually.

In other Sandy-aftermath news, GE has implemented an Emergency Response Program to help utility, industrial and commercial customers restore and maintain power. The Emergency Response Program is providing customers with access to 24/7 phone and on-site service support, hotline product ordering and expedited equipment delivery of GE’s power products, including distribution transformers, critical power components and software analytics.

Photo Credit: GZA GeoEnvironmental

 



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