In the shadow of two outdated smokestacks and four antiquated coal-fired boilers, Ball State has started the second and final phase of converting the university to a geothermal ground-source heat pump system – the largest project of its kind in the United States.
conversion, started in 2009 to replace the coal boilers, now provides heating
and cooling to nearly half the campus. This phase of the project will be
dedicated in March.
system is complete, the shift from fossil fuels to a renewable energy source
will reduce the university's carbon footprint by nearly half while saving $2
million a year in operating costs.
Ball State is installing a vertical,
closed-loop district system that uses only fresh water. The system uses the
Earth's ability to store heat in the ground and water thermal masses. A
geothermal heat pump uses the Earth as either a heat source, when operating in
heating mode, or a heat sink, when operating in cooling mode.
direction of Jim Lowe, director of engineering, construction and operations,
work has begun on Phase 2, which includes installation of 780 of the remaining
1,800 boreholes in a field on the south area of campus.
will continue throughout 2013-2014, and will include a new District Energy
Station South containing two 2,500-ton heat pump chillers and a hot water loop
around the south portion of campus. The system then will connect to all
buildings on campus – eventually providing heating and cooling to 5.5 million
costs began to escalate for the installation of a new fossil fuel burning
boiler, the university began to evaluate other renewable energy options,"
Lowe says. "This led to the decision to convert the campus to a more efficient
geothermal-based heating and cooling system."
has caught the attention of universities and communities across the nation.
Lowe is sharing information about the university's new operation with others
who want learn how they too can benefit from a geothermal system. He may be
reached at 765-285-2805 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ball State: Creating Nation's Largest Geothermal System
March 8, 2012