Clemson University hosted the first International Geothermal Summit on May 15 at the new Watts Innovation Center on Clemson University’s campus. More than 100 attendees with a variety of disciplines including architects, contractors, manufacturers, developers, installers, drillers, engineers, policy-makers, professors and students gathered to listen to speakers from Canada, Germany and the U.S.

Professor Kate Schwennsen, director of the Clemson University School of Architecture and former AIA president, welcomed the attendees and pointed out that decision-makers in projects have the responsibility to learn the benefits of geothermal energy and begin to make it the primary solution.

Former IGSHPA president John Turley was there, as well as geothermal design expert Ed Lorenz and Jack DiEnna.

The Clemson University Department of Architecture and the ASHRAE Greenville, S.C., chapter co-hosted the Geothermal Summit with the South Carolina Energy Office. Clemson University Professor Vincent Blouin and Kater Heine, the sales director of geoKOAX, envisioned the Geothermal Summit with hopes of spreading the benefits of geothermal technology to as many as possible. Graduate Assistant Rebecca Wilson, who studied architecture at Clemson University, was added to the team to help with the organization, branding and logistics of the conference.

Waterfurnace was the main sponsor of the conference. The company’s contributions made the summit possible. Bret Ross, the Waterfurnace keynote speaker, discussed how the geothermal industry should no longer focus on tax credits, but should continue to concentrate on innovation to progress geothermal systems to make the industry more competitive.

Organizers of the Clemson University Geothermal Summit say it is clear that there is a strong demand for a geothermal discussion in the Southeast region of the U.S. They say that with more regional conferences focusing on how to better the industry and product innovations, the geothermal industry can play a more important role in stopping climate change.

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