Ground source heating and cooling seminars are planned.

Today’s ground source heating and cooling (GSHC) technology provides a proven method for saving significant amounts of energy for heating, cooling and hot water generation for any application. Thousands of homes, businesses and manufacturing plants across the country already are tak-ing advantage of these energy-efficient conditioning systems. GSHC systems operate at significantly lower costs than traditional gas, oil or electric-based installations. National benefits from ground source system installations include less demand for energy generation capacity, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and a reduced dependence on imports of oil and other fossil fuels.

By definition, installation of ground source systems involves accessing the subsurface by either excavation or by drilling vertical bores. Because the subsurface heat exchange process occurs near or beneath the ground water table, environmental and water resource regulatory questions about design and installation have been raised in some states.

The American Ground Water Trust has scheduled a series of regional forums in 2008 on GSHC technologies. Each event will include industry pro-fessionals, state regulatory administrators and engineering specialists explaining the various critical aspects of a properly designed system and the key steps needed to install and maintain a GSHC system. The programs describe the science behind the technology, and serve to dispel common myths about the effectiveness, reliability and safety of ground source systems. Examples are presented to demonstrate the environmental and stra-tegic benefits of the technology. Many states are reviewing and refining the regulations and rules that apply to these systems in order to protect bet-ter ground water quality and quantity. The forums will include an update of the local regulations covering permitting and installation of GSHC sys-tems.

Questions addressed during a recent GSHC forum in Massachusetts:

  • What are the barriers to widespread adoption of the technology by developers for new buildings or for homeowner retrofit? What can be done to eliminate these barriers?

  • Are there any environmental or economic risks associated with this technology?

  • Are there data that demonstrate risk cause and effect?

  • Do design and installation standards provide adequate protective guidelines for ground water resources?

  • Do we have the data to support universal standards for design, installation and material specification?

  • Should specific professional training be required for the belowground aspects of system installation?

  • Which state and federal agencies should have, or do have, regulatory oversight for ground source heat exchange installations?
The forum program draws on the experience and expertise of ground water and HVAC industry professionals, and will provide a unique opportu-nity for exchange of information among policy makers involved in energy-saving issues, and specialists involved with the design, construction and permitting of ground source-based systems for cooling and heating. New England event participants included energy company engineers, archi-tects, planners and conservation commissioners, building code inspectors, environmental health professionals, home inspectors, water well contrac-tors, HVAC professionals, real estate agents, home builders and developers, town officials (conservation, zoning, planning), and water-testing spe-cialists. The technology cuts across professional boundaries and expertise because of its potential to become the technology of choice among those considering “green” energy alternatives for commercial or residential installations. It will be coming to a building near you soon!

The 2008 Ground Source Heating and Cooling Forum schedule:

  • Tallahassee, Fla. – Thursday, Jan. 17

  • Baltimore – February

  • Chicago – April

  • Seattle – May

  • Philadelphia/New York – June
Forum program and registration details will be updated regularly on the American Ground Water Trust’s Web site: