Historical Church,
State-of-the-Art Climate Control

When Virginia’s Henricus Historical Park decided to build a replica colonial church and meeting hall as part of its living history museum, it had two choices: either install no climate control and open the building only when the weather permitted, or engineer the building with a cost-saving geothermal system so it could be used for weddings, concerts, and lectures. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the organization has opted for the latter–and it’s going to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act at the same time. But though visitors to the church will enjoy state-of-the-art geothermal comfort all year long, what they see will be true to the site’s history. Henricus Historical Park includes both a model colonial-period English settlement and a recreation of a village inhabited by the Arrohateck people of the Powhatan Indian chiefdom.

Green Energy in Yellow Springs

In our previous post we highlighted a geothermal project in Danbury, Connecticut. Today’s focuses on an installation much nearer home: in the unique southwestern Ohio village of Yellow Springs. According to the Dayton Business Journal, Antioch College has been granted LEED certification for North Hall, a dormitory constructed in 1853. A key component of its energy efficiency plan is a geothermal heating and cooling system. The structure is the second-oldest building that has ever received LEED certification, which is granted by the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC website says that this certification “provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health.”

Vertical Drilling in Barcelona

Barcelona is known for the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, the labyrinthine streets of the Barri Gòtic, and museums dedicated to the work of Joan Mirò and Pablo Picasso. It is making a contribution to the study of sustainability as well, thanks to an environmental education center called La Fabrica del Sol. This old Catalan building, where people meet to discuss ecological issues, is putting green thinking into practice with a new geothermal heating and cooling system, says an article on Euronews. La Fabrica del Sol is one of the EU’s eight demonstration sites of vertical geothermal drilling.

Heating Hartford

At Geothermal Professionals, we’re sometimes asked whether older houses can be fitted with state-of-the-art geothermal systems. The answer is: “Absolutely!” And there’s perhaps no better example of a very, very old home getting a geothermal upgrade than Hartford, Connecticut’s Amos Bull House.

The structure was built in 1788, when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was still alive and the United States Constitution had yet to go into effect. Over the years it served as a dry goods store, a hardware store, an auto dealership, an insurance office, a restaurant, and the headquarters of the Connecticut Historical Commission. According to CT News Junkie, the latest renovation is being undertaken by a non-profit group dubbed Connecticut Landmarks, which plans to make the building a community education center, as well as an archive for Connecticut-related photos and historical documents. A pamphlet issued by Connecticut Landmarks indicates that the Amos Bull House will share a closed-loop system that already serves the needs of the nearby Butler-McCook House, Main Street History Center, and Aetna Gallery.

Geothermally Grown Tulips

Last autumn we reported on an innovative initiative in the Netherlands: geothermally heated bicycle lanes. The Netherlands, it appears, are in the energy vanguard once again, using geothermal energy to heat greenhouses. Why not grow tulips in greenhouses powered by geothermal? Geothermal energy is a particularly suitable primary energy source for greenhouses because of the industry’s concentrated and high heat demand. Rabobank International in Utrecht reports that Dutch operators of greenhouses are looking to geothermal in their struggle with rising natural gas prices. Clara Van Der Elst, an analyst for Rabobank, says that “The ongoing development of geothermal energy reflects a win-win for the Dutch greenhouse industry.”

Mile High Geothermal

Rare products of the earth are much in evidence at the Colorado State capitol. The shiny dome at the top of the building is genuine gold leaf. And the world’s entire supply of a precious marble known as Colorado Rose Onyx was used to make the building’s interior. Now the building’s also employing one of the earth’s resources that’s available to every one of us–its naturally constant internal temperature. And unlike Colorado Rose Onyx, that resource isn’t going to run out. The Denver Post reports that a new geothermal system is being brought online this week to heat and cool the 119-year-old edifice. It’s an open-loop system, making use of the Arapahoe Aquifer, and it makes Colorado the first state to use a geothermal system to both heat and cool its capitol building.

A House Fit for a Seafarer

Marco Casagrande may seem an unlikely appellation for a Finn. (He is, as you might guess, from a part-Italian family.) But his name is well-known in architectural circles for his mixture of art and science, his concern with the relationship between human beings and nature, and his unceasing innovation. Inhabitat.com highlights his latest project: a wooden home in Karjaa that resembles a boat among trees. How does Apelle, as it is dubbed, keep warm during Scandinavia’s long winters? With geothermal energy, of course.

Geothermal Climate Control at the University of Maine

The University of Maine at Farmington is about to make a major investment in geothermal, installing no less than 80 geothermal wells beneath Mantor Green to heat some 50,000 square feet of its facilities. According to the Kennebec Journal, the $1.55-million project is the fourth geothermal installation on the campus. Earlier systems provide climate control for the Education Center, a swimming pool in the Fitness and Recreation Center, and the Emery Arts Center.

Geothermal Cooling and Outer Space

Can heat from the earth enhance our knowledge of space? A project being undertaken by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) indicates that it can. The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP, is a new radio telescope that’s expected to help answer questions about the early life of the universe and to investigate cosmic magnetism and some of the predictions of general relativity. The telescope will consist of 36 antennas in Western Australia’s Mid West region, and they’ll be transmitting their findings to a supercomputer in Perth. Trouble is, Perth is short of water, so cooling the supercomputer with the city’s water supply is not an ideal option. Instead, according to British IT source The Register, CSIRO will be cooling the computer with a geothermal system hooked up to an aquifer 100 meters below the surface.