Geothermal Helps US Navy Sub Base Grab LEED

The U.S. Navy’s Submarine Learning Center (SLC) headquarters at the Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) has earned LEED Silver for excellence in energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design.

“This is a ‘greener’ and ‘leaner’ Navy facility,” Capt. Marc Denno, SUBASE commanding officer, said in a statement. “The secretary of the Navy and commander of Navy Installations Command have challenged the service and the shore installation enterprise in particular. They’ve laid down the gauntlet for us to continue to be better stewards of the environment and tax dollars in every possible step and outcome of the military construction process.”

submarine base leed silver

image via P&S Construction

Dedicated last August, the headquarters is the first facility of its kind to be built to LEED standards at the base. It totals nearly16,000 square feet and was constructed with materials featuring significant amounts of recycled content, among those its acoustic ceilings, rigid roof insulation, gypsum wall board, carpet and resilient flooring. The headquarters also helps to protect the health of staff and sailors with low-VOC finishes and adhesives.

A white polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roof membrane provides a reflective, energy efficient, cool cap to the building, and interior and exterior lighting strategies make the most of natural daylight. A geothermal heating and cooling systems makes use of the steady temperature of the earth to keep heating and cooling costs in the building to a minimum, utilizing a closed-loop glycol system and a brazed heat exchanger to transfer energy to a series of water-to-air heat pumps located throughout the building. The geothermal system is expected to pay for itself in energy savings within the next ten years.

The headquarters building clocks in around 30-40 percent more energy efficient than commercial building code, in line with the U.S. military’s overall push toward greening its operations.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply May 17, 2012


    The GEOTHERMAL System is expected to pay for itself in the next ten years?  What was the cost to install it? The core drilling for the well heads was in the rock that basically makes the base grounds rather than a soil according to the core sample reports, correct? The cost to drill in this materiel exceeds that of soil by a significant margin, add to that the cost of doing business on the installation? This base as a matter of note, typically has a decent access program set preventing daily trips to a pass office which would have added a significant cost.

    How did a GEOTHERMAL systems increased cost over air cooled equipment manage to be offset by the energy consumption differences? What were the calimed avoided cost? Salvage Values?

    • Reply May 20, 2012


      I suspect the engineering staff would have had the training and experience to consider all of the variables to determine a 10 year payback. If they were just making it up they would have chosen a shorter payback term.

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