The project included the installation of ground source heat recovery chillers, construction of a geothermal "earth-loop", well fields, heating/cooling water distribution loops, and required modifications to building HVAC systems. This project created three geothermal regional plants. The regional plants are located in the McNutt, Straumanis-James, and the recently-completed James E. Bertelsmeyer Halls.
These plants contain screw-type heat recovery chillers and serve adjacent buildings with heating water through a new heating hot water distribution system. Supplemental boilers have been installed in the regional plant to provide first-cost savings, peak load energy savings, and flexibility of energy usage. The heat recovery chillers also are connected to the cold water distribution system to provide the base cooling source. The chilled water distribution system has been modified and upgraded into a two pipe system. The system reuses the existing electric chillers and cooling towers located on campus, which have been reconfigured to work with the new chilled water distribution system. The cooling towers allow extra heat to be disbursed in the atmosphere, ensuring the well fields will not become unviable for cooling needs due to heat-saturation.
The benefits of regional plants include less infrastructure maintenance, longer equipment life of screw chillers compared to modular type, and adaptability to load diversity between buildings.
To reduce piping costs and simplify phased growth of the campus geothermal system, each regional plant has been tied to a dedicated well field. The well fields have been sized to optimize the payback from utility savings.
Buildings not in the scope of this project that had used steam from the power plant for heating have been retrofitted with dedicated steam boilers or upgraded with other systems until those buildings can be added to the future geothermal plants.