Ball State University in Indiana is retiring its four coal-fired boilers after almost 70 years of use and replacing them with a district closed geothermal energy system. The $80 million geothermal project – consisting of 3,600 boreholes – will heat and cool 47 buildings on campus. The changeover takes the school from consuming about 36,000 tons of coal a year to renewable energy, while saving $2 million a year in operating costs.
Final work to be completed includes finishing the system’s south borehole field, modifications to the South District Energy Station to accommodate the two new 2,500-ton heat-pump chillers, hot and chilled water distribution looping, and modification of the remaining buildings to accept the geothermal connections.
Phase 1 was completed in 2012. It consisted of two borehole fields, construction of the North District Energy Station and connecting buildings on the northern part of campus to the new distribution system.
The US Department of Energy provided a grant of $5 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Indiana General Assembly authorized nearly $45 million in state capital funding for the first phase. In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly authorized a $30 million cash appropriation for the second phase.