Geothermal Heats Prison

The Kent County Correctional Facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., spent $1 million from the Energy Department‘s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program to install an energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system.

The county is saving an average of $100,000 a year from the system, resulting in a 10-year payback.

Kent County Correctional Facility installed the 96-well geothermal system to reduce its energy consumption.

Located below ground where temperatures remain constant at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the new closed-loop geothermal system extracts heat stored in the earth to heat and cool the building. The system uses temperature-controlled water that is pushed through pipes into the building to maintain the desired temperature.

The geothermal system operates 24 hours a day 365 days per year and has 2,400 MBH (thousands of Btu/hour) of cooling capacity and 2,270 MBH of heating capacity – roughly the amount needed to heat and cool 45 energy-efficient homes.

Kent County chose geothermal energy after it found success using the same technology at the 63rd District Courthouse – the only other county building that uses a renewable energy heating and cooling system.

The county continues to examine ways in which it can reduce energy consumption and cut or avoid costs at other facilities.

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