Historically, the 215,000-sq-foot Idaho Water Center used between 8 and 13 million gallons of geothermal water from October to May. This year, however, new energy-saving techniques have led to the building using less than 4 million gallons.
The building, heated with geothermal water from the city of Boise’s geothermal utility system, processes hot water through a heat exchanger and then returns the water to the city system, eliminating the need for a supplemental heat source.
Oppenheimer Development Corporation, the building’s new management firm, is using timers based on building occupancy and solar gain to save energy. Although the Idaho Water Center building was not specifically designed to take advantage of solar energy, sunny days warm the east part of the building, and that air is now being re-circulated and warming the rest of the building, which means less geothermal water is used.
As a result of a more efficient use of energy throughout the building, the Idaho Water Center’s Energy Star certification is now at 88 out of a possible 100, compared to score of 79 in June 2014.
In 2012, another college in the city – Boise State University – connected nine of its campus buildings to the city’s geothermal heating system.
Photo of geothermal via Shutterstock