Friday, June 3, 2011

College Begins Installing Geothermal System

CHESTERTOWN—As soon as the tent stakes from the Commencement ceremony came out, the surveyor’s stakes and fence posts went in. Work has begun on the College’s next big capital project: the installation of geothermal fields for heating and cooling the soon-to-be-renovated Miller Library.

For the next month or so, drilling rigs will be digging 168 wells, each 300 feet deep, and the wells will be linked together with a network of underground piping. Next summer, the piping will be integrated into the new geothermal heating and cooling system that is part of the environmentally friendly renovation of the library. The same system will heat and cool adjacent Smith Hall.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are both green and cost-effective. Geothermal energy originates from the Earth’s stored heat; so that even in winter, the ground temperature below 10 feet is consistently 12.8°C (55°F). The soil on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is particularly suitable for geothermal use. The College is expected to recoup its $900,000 investment in the geothermal system through fuel oil savings in just a few years.

While the earth is opened up, the College also will install an irrigation system. Then the lawn will be regraded and sodded in time to welcome the Class of 2015 in late August. “By the time those students drive across the Chester River Bridge and onto campus, they shouldn’t be able to tell anything ever happened,” says Reid Raudenbush, Director of the Physical Plant for the College.