Developer Hits Milestone for Large 100% Geothermal Community in Kentucky

geothermal community Norton Commons Kentucky
(Photo: North Commons in Louisville, Kentucky. Credit: Phillip Brock, Vimeo)

A new neighborhood development in northeast Jefferson County, Kentucky, has completed its 200th geothermal home. Norton Commons, which sits on nearly 600 acres, aims to create the nation’s largest 100% geothermal community.

Currently Norton Commons includes more than 1,200 residences, over 60 businesses, three schools, along with dozens of parks, pools, and green space, according to the developer. With 200 of the residences already heated and cooled using geothermal technology, another 50 are under construction now, and 50 more are being planned.

Construction first began in December 2015. When the homes are finished, the developer says that Norton Commons’ North Village will have more than 1,500 homes, making it one of the largest residential geothermal community in the United States.

The network of underground geothermal loops and heat pump units inside each home offers several major advantages, according to Norton Commons. They include eliminating outdoor air conditioning units, saving space, and reducing noise. Lower utility bills is another selling point.

As a result, the geothermal homes have been popular, says Norton Commons managing director, Charles A. Osborn III. The developer also pointed to the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which was reinstated last month and extended. Norton Commons noted that a tax credit means a dollar-for-dollar reduction of tax liability for units put into service after January 1, 2017 through 2021.

The Kentucky development joins other sizable geothermal communities in the works. Whisper Valley in Austin, Texas, is a 2,062-acre master-planned community valued at $2 billion expected to have 7,500 single homes when completed. Planning began in 2012, and the Austin Business Journal’s Jan Buchholz reported last fall on the long construction delay.

“According to Doug Gilliland, managing director of Taurus of Texas, creating the infrastructure for geothermal heating and cooling systems up front and educating homebuilders about the construction of this form of energy efficiency took time,” she wrote. “Other delays were incurred with the city’s permitting process.”

Pinewood Forest in Fayetteville, Georgia, announced plans last year to become the first large-scale fully geothermal community in the country. Construction began in April 2017 on the 234-acre master planned residential and mixed-use development 24 miles south of Atlanta. Once built, it’s expected to have 1,300 residences.

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