Universities swapping energy sources to geothermal now a growing trend

March 13, 2024

Universities swapping energy sources to geothermal now a growing trend

The “power of the Earth” provides some of the most sustainable energy options.

Julia Jacobo, ABCNews.go.com, March 1, 2024

Some of the most established universities in the country are switching to sustainable energy to power their campuses in an effort to meet climate goals.

Bard College, a private liberal arts college in New York’s Hudson Valley, has broken ground on a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system that will replace the decaying oil system that was previously powering the Charles P. Stevenson Jr, Library, the school announced earlier this week.

t is one of many colleges utilizing ground geothermal source technology that installs pumps in the ground that then circulates a temperature-adjusted fluid to the surface using a series of pipes in a closed-loop system.

Geothermal energy is “one of the oldest forms of energy in the book,” previously used by the Romans, Native Americans and ancient Chinese civilizations, Caitlin Grady, an assistant professor of engineering management and systems at George Washington University, told ABC News. The energy is also a prime example of using the planet’s natural resources to generate power, she said.

“You’re talking about using gravity and water to power buildings … using what the Earth has to offer for free,” Grady said.

Bard’s newest project will consist of 50 boreholes drilled to a depth of 500 feet, which will contain the geothermal loops and thermally enhanced grout, according to Brightcore.

The school, founded in 1860, has been incorporating geothermal energy into its new buildings since the 1980s. But this is the first time a legacy building — previously powered by oil-fire boiler plant and conventional chiller system — will be retrofit for geothermal energy.

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