Geothermal at Elementary School is Long Term Solution

School buildings are built the best when construction starts underground, way underground. The Pueblo 60 School District was able to invest in a geoexchange system for the new Irving Elementary School as part of district wide efforts to establish long-term energy-efficient projects for the 39 school buildings included in the District, located two hours south of Denver, Colorado.

Pueblo 60 partnered with Rebuild Colorado, a program of the Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC), and the Strategic Environmental Project Pipeline (StEPP) Foundation. Linda Smith, who is the program manager for Rebuild Colorado, approached Pueblo 60 to jointly seek a StEPP grant proposal for alternative energy, and their joint proposal was awarded $65,000 for alternative energy technologies from the StEPP Foundation. Pueblo 60 added its own substantial dollars and used the StEPP Foundation grant to secure another $6 million in interest-free bonds to focus on energy efficiency and deferred maintenance needs for all buildings in the district. “Rebuild Colorado is known for taking the extra initiative for Colorado’s public institutions, saving tax payers thousand of dollars every year through the best energy management practices,” said Rick Grice, OEMC executive director. The geoexchange system installed at Irving Elementary is the first for any Pueblo Schools and will provide heating and cooling to the entire school building. A geoexchange system is based on the fact that, regardless of weather conditions, the Earth maintains a stable temperature several yards below the surface. Circulating a glycol solution through buried pipes, the system extracts heat from the ground in the winter and dumps excess heat back into the ground during the summer. The heat pumps in the building complete the cycle, delivering comfortable temperatures, throughout the seasons, to the occupied spaces. Rebuild Colorado found that the geoexchange system is estimated to reduce utility costs by 20 percent compared to a conventional system. The maintenance is similar to water circulating systems, such as package air conditioning units and is not expected to need any special or additional services.
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