In a recent executive order issued by the Obama administration, the White House recognized that geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) are a useful technology in helping reach sustainability goals.

The order, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade,” intends to cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent during the next 10 years from 2008 levels.

“We are extremely pleased that the White House cited geothermal heat pumps when referring to renewable energy,” says Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President Doug Dougherty. “The fact that GHPs are officially recognized as a source of clean energy in the president’s executive order on sustainability is a homerun for the GHP industry.”

The initiative mandates that the federal government up the share of electricity it consumes from renewable sources to 30 percent. It also urges an increase in energy efficiency and renewable thermal energy use by federal buildings.

Inclusion of GHPs in the order is the result of the GEO meeting with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, according to Dougherty, who suggests that all 50 states follow the federal government’s example in using GHPs for efficiency and renewable energy.

The executive order directs federal agencies to do the following by 2025:

  • Get at least 25 percent of total electric and thermal energy from clean energy sources.
  • Cut federal building energy use by 2.5 percent per year starting this year.
  • Lower per-mile GHG emissions from federal fleets by 30 percent from 2014 levels.
  • Increase the percentage of zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles in federal fleets.
  • Reduce water intensity in federal buildings by 2 percent per year.

GHPs are relevant to many aspects of the order as an efficiency tool and renewable thermal energy source, Dougherty says.

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