Design Professionals Spec Geothermal for Storm Resilience

With Hurricane Sandy a recent memory, Texas in the midst of recovery, and powerful storms bearing down in the tropics, architects, engineers and professionals of all kinds are taking notice that geothermal systems are the most resilient and stormproof air-conditioning and heating systems available. New York Times wrote in the aftermath of Sandy, “Geothermal Systems Arise as a Stormproof Resource”.

Many don’t realize that with a geothermal system, the cooling tower, boiler, and associated fuel tank are eliminated, leaving little outside the building’s envelope to be damaged. The equipment can be installed in elevated locations in the building, keeping the equipment above flood-zones. The storm resilience is one of many attributes enjoyed by buildings equipped with geothermal systems. Some of the others include:

  • Elimination of Legionella threats from cooling towers
  • Elimination of outside noise and equipment clutter
  • Reduction of on-site greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Impressive HVAC system longevity
  • Increased energy efficiency

Whether a client is building new or upgrading, what they truly want is to ensure a long lasting, nearly tamper-proof system. Much of the maintenance and service dollars expended on an HVAC system go to the cooling towers and outside equipment. Inside equipment tends to run better because it’s protected from the elements. Cooling towers are labor intensive, and with the recent CDC findings, quite a health and human safety risk. With the new data from the CDC on risks, many may choose geothermal to be insulated from such a liability as the threat of legionella disease from infected cooling towers.

To this point, earlier this year at the New York Geothermal (NY-GEO) Conference in Albany, educational sessions were offered that provided AIA credits for architects and PDH credits for engineers. They were so successful, that NY-GEO will be offering full day sessions throughout the state this fall as a way of increasing implementation. The courses will start Sept. 13 in Poughkeepsie and will run through November in Albany, New York City, Farmingdale, Buffalo and Syracuse. Click here for dates, details and registration.

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Bill Nowak is the Executive Director of the New York Geothermal Energy Organization

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