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School goes green with geothermal heat exchange system

November 02, 2009
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SIMSBURY, CT — The new, $34.6 million, 85,000-square-foot Armour Academic Center at the Westminster School features a geothermal heat exchange system that heats and cools the building without using a drop of oil, according to the Hartford Courant.
Seventy-two plastic pipes and related plumbing and pumps circulate 10,000 gallons of a water and propylene glycol mixture through 72 wells drilled 475 feet beneath the Simsbury bedrock.
According to the story, the circulating water system takes advantage of the simple principle that, below the frost line, the earth retains a relatively consistent temperature of 55 degrees, the story stated.
In the winter, heat drawn from the relatively warmer circulating water is used to warm the building and in the summer, the relatively cooler water draws away the heat from the building to provide air conditioning, the story noted.
As the story points out, Westminster is so confident of its new geothermal system that it didn''t even bother to install a conventional backup boiler.
Edmond Macri, a mechanical contractor who spent five years working with Westminster''s building committee to design the system, said: "I know of no other geothermal unit this advanced, anywhere in the country, and yes it''s ironic that this benchmark project originated at a private school. At your typical new commercial building, the owners or investors just assign the job out to the architects and engineers and expect it to get done. At Westminster, from the headmaster on down, there was this strong impetus to be a good citizen and reduce the school''s carbon footprint by becoming personally involved in the design and construction."
Westminster''s geothermal heat exchange system includes a computerized monitoring system that will allow the building''s energy use to be monitored and, if necessary, for changes to be programmed into the system, the story added.
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