Princeton Alumni Week
Princeton University is investing hundreds of millions of dollars below our feet, digging holes 600 and 850 feet deep for two new state-of-the-art geo-exchange systems. They make up one of the biggest components of the University’s plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from campus by Princeton’s 300th anniversary in 2046.
Currently, the University runs a steam distribution plant and a cogeneration system within the central energy plant to produce electricity and steam for the campus, but some parts predate World War I. Rather than rebuilding what is now considered mediocre technology, the University sought out something newer and better.
Enter geo-exchange. Thousands of holes, or bores, are being dug underneath the south side of campus near Fitzrandolph Road and across Lake Carnegie at the new Lake Campus. Once the bores are in place, long tubes bent in a U-shape will be inserted and filled with water to capture and store heat in the ground. That stored heat, along with heat pumps and thermal energy storage tanks, will be used to heat and cool buildings. Also underway is the conversion of campus buildings to utilize this hot-water system rather than steam.
The Thermally Integrated Geo-Exchange Resource (TIGER) facility on Fitzrandolph is expected to be completed in May 2023, while the Central Utility Building (CUB), which will distribute hot and cold water to the new Lake Campus buildings, should be finished this fall. The Lewis Center for the Arts, Lakeside Graduate Housing, and the Lawrence Apartments are already operating on geo-exchange.