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UMass Medical School Builds Geothermal Heating & Cooling System to Reduce Emissions

By District Energy posted 07-13-2021 14:14


Environment and Energy Leader


The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s new education and research building will include a geothermal heating and cooling system that will provide about 88% of the heat for the building and about 50% of the cooling needs for the building.

The geothermal system will also cut the building’s carbon footprint from about 3,000 tons of GHGs annually (if it were to be served exclusively by the campus power plant) to about 1,660 tons per year. That’s according to an energy analysis of the building conducted by engineering consultants BR+A, writes UMass Med News.

The geothermal system will be made up of 75 boreholes drilled 500 feet deep in the bedrock below the campus green; water will circulate through a system of pipes in those holes. Heat pumps in the building and compressor coils filled with refrigerant in the ground between the pipes will heat and cool the water.

UMass is working from a comprehensive campus energy plan, developed in 2015, which maps out the next 10 years of energy usage for the campus and defines as well as prioritizes projects based on minimum cost and the highest measure of greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The plan also focuses on renewable energy production, conservation measures, and the understanding of the economics and decision-making process for the conservation, purchasing, and distribution of energy on campus for the future.

UMass completed a central heating plant in 2009 that replaced the campus’s 80-year-old coal-burning power plant. The plant had helped reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 27% by 2013. The CHP has a 10-megawatt combustion turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, a 4-megawatt steam turbine, and three natural gas boilers. The plant provides electricity for 70% of the campus and provides 100% of the steam that is needed for heating and cooling for buildings across campus.

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