The University of New Mexico’s Utility Services Department could in the near future heat and cool all its buildings with geothermal energy, making UNM one of only a few universities nationwide to adopt such a campus-wide system.
Conversion from heating and cooling based on natural gas to a system that draws natural heat from the ground is one possibility under consideration as UNM develops a new master plan for its facilities management going forward, said Utility Services Director Jeff Zumwalt. But pulling the trigger depends on careful analysis of the costs and benefits.
“We’ve looked at building a geothermal heat exchange system on Johnson Field in the past, but it requires an expensive upfront cost,” Zumwalt told the Journal. “It’s a large scale process that would be built to last 20 or 30 years, so we need to project out the use of different fuel sources to decide if it’s economical.”
A number of public buildings already use ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling, including some schools in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Alamogordo.