Geothermal Added To Virginia Army Base

The Department of Defense has long been the largest consumer of energy within the U.S. government. To rectify this, Congress has mandated that 25% of the Department’s energy consumption come from renewable sources by 2025. The Department of Defense has specific goals for each of its facilities to help it achieve this goal.

At Fort Lee, in Virginia, a boom in new construction will incorporate energy efficiency improvements to help the facility reduce its carbon footprint. Various renewable energy technologies have also been considered, including solar and wind. Recently, the Army announced that it is incorporating geothermal heating and cooling systems into two barracks buildings currently under construction at Fort Lee. Both structures are expected to be completed in 2012.


image via U.S. Army

Fundamentally, the systems will circulate water through a closed-loop system from the buildings to an underground geothermal well. In the summer, heat from inside the building will be absorbed underground, and returned to the building to cool it. In the winter, the process is reversed, heating the building with warm water from under the ground. “We’re just taking advantage of the temperature difference between the water and the earth to transfer heat or cold air to the building,” said Gary Ogden, chief of operations, Directorate of Public Works and Logistics.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that these types of systems generally consume 20-25 percent less electricity than conventional heating and cooling systems. Additionally, they are about 40% more efficient in the winter than regular heat pumps. Due to the cost of installation, geothermal systems are typically only cost-effective on new construction, such as the barracks at Fort Lee. Ogden also stressed the importance of energy conservation. “There have been estimates that we can reduce our energy by 10-15% if we could just get people to modify their behavior,” he said.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

    • Anonymous

      I’m a mechanical engineer working closely with a high end architectural office. I have always been skeptical at best about geothermal for homes. Over the past year, I have been introduced to some solid concepts a procedures for geothermal hvac technology, but I was still not ready to commit to the technology…primarily because it is so unregulated. nnWhen the architectural firm I work with came to me to design the mechanical for a large custom home, I scoffed at the prospect of geothermal hvac. The owner gave me a copy of this book (Geothermal HVAC) and asked me to skim it. This book is like a breath of fresh air in a vast wasteland…it addresses the real issues without presuming to have to teach the technical aspects, which in my opinion is the demise of any new technology, trying to teach the common do-it-you-selfer (such as I am often called) how to design and install something that should be left to a highly trained professional. nnCutting to the bottom line, I’ve followed the guidelines in the book, and I am busier in this depressed economy than I’ve been in the last 15 years (I have currently more than 20 projects going valued in the millions). People really want this, and they want to be convinced that we know of what we’re speaking. Brilliantly written, easy to read, and right on the money.u00a0u00a0 Google “Geothermal Book”