You might not put much thought into how your children’s school is kept warm or cool. But parents across the U.S. shouldn’t be surprised if their child comes home complaining of the heat as summer temps increase..
A recent study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) states that over 36,000 K-12 schools in the U.S. have failing HVAC systems. That is, over a third of the primary schools in the country with faulty, or no, heating and cooling. These conditions make it difficult and even unsafe for students to learn and engage properly at school.
In the face of these issues, more and more schools are turning to Geothermal heat pump technology to keep their facilities sustainable, comfortable, and healthy. A Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHP) uses thermal energy from ground under our feet to keep a building warm or cool, no matter the location or weather.
The foundation of a GHP system is a series of pipes buried deep underground that circulates water at a depth where temperatures remain stable year-round. This ground loop feeds the heat exchangers in the building giving every room their own environment and keeping the students and staff comfortable.
The US EPA has stated that Geothermal Heat Pump technology is the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly HVAC system available today. It is also the most sustainable with the indoor equipment lasting up to 25 years and the ground loop lasting 50 to 100 years. Higher reliability means less maintenance. Less maintenance means more time for students in a healthy, safe environment.
K to 12 schools are an ideal “anchor” tenant for a networked geothermal system. Schools typically have a large parking lot or a soccer or baseball field that would become the location of the ground loop heat exchanger. The network would then branch out to the surrounding homes or businesses. This type of application would take full advantage of the diversity in the two end users. When the school is using the loop field the homes are typically unoccupied and when the homes are occupied, the school is closed or has limited use.
By the time a student graduates from High school. They have spent 15,600 hours inside a school. For the 50 million K to 12 students in the US it is a time of rapid physical growth, hormonal changes and intense learning & critical social development. Installing a geothermal system in a school, not only eliminates the “I’m too hot —I’m too cold” issue but also saves energy, reduces emissions and promotes a better learning environment.
Finally, schools have historically been institutions of progress and change. Many schools are even making sustainability a core value. When paired with other renewable energies, geothermal can cut a school’s emissions to almost zero.
Geothermal heat pumps are a forty year old “new” technology that is now being recognized as a major weapon in mitigating climate change. Installing this technology in K to 12 schools and using that school as the “anchor” end user for the ground loop not only supports emission reduction but also teaches the students and staff the real value of this renewable technology. A technology that promotes Energy independence & security, Emission reduction and Economic prosperity.