Enviro-Tech: Geothermal Technology Advantages of Clean Energy Renewable Energy Systems
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Enviro-Tech Geothermal The Most Comfortable Return on Your HVAC Investment

The Best Business Decision for Heating/Cooling Commercial Buildings

The Most Comfortable Return on Your HVAC Investment.

Each year, more offices, hotels, retail stores and commercial buildings are discovering how to save tens of thousands of dollars on heating and cooling costs through geoexchange. Cost and space savings, greater comfort, lower maintenance and equipment life cycle costs, individual zone control and environmental conservation are just a few benefits of this earth-friendly technology.

Geoexchange has a tremendous future, but it’s as old as the earth itself. By tapping into the relatively constant temperature of the earth below the frost line, geoexchange heats and cools buildings at significant savings — 25% to 40% savings when compared to traditional systems. It’s the world’s most efficient way to heat and cool commercial buildings.

These savings translate into many income-generating solutions. Lower heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) costs could help make office leases more attractive to tenants, while ensuring maximum earning potential for building owners. Or money saved could be invested elsewhere in the building. The smaller space requirements of geoexchange systems could also produce more room for additional offices, retail operations or other profit centers.

Geoexchange is ideal, whether you’re constructing a new building, renovating an existing one or simply replacing your old HVAC system. So read on. The more you learn about geoexchange, the more comfortable, cost-efficient and environmentally conscious your building can be.

Geoexchange is an increasingly popular choice for commercial buildings. By tapping into the relatively constant temperature of the earth below the frost line, geoexchange heats and cools commercial properties at significant savings.

Simplicity of Design and Operation from the Ground Up

Unlike traditional furnaces that burn fuels for heat and require separate air conditioning or chiller systems, geoexchange systems transfer heat from one place to another using a simple process to provide both warmth and cooling. There are two types of geoexchange systems. Each taps the earth’s inexhaustible supply of renewable thermal energy, underground or underwater, where temperatures remain fairly moderate at 45°-55°F, year-round.

“Closed loop” systems use the earth as the heat transfer medium, employing a mixture of water and non-toxic antifreeze pumped through a continuous loop of sealed polyethylene pipes buried beneath the ground, vertically or horizontally. The mixture never comes in contact with the earth.

“Open loop” systems draw water directly from a well, lake or pond and pump it through a heat exchanger at the geothermal heat pump; after which, the water is returned to the source — just as clean as before.

In winter, geoexchange systems bring the earth’s natural warmth up to a building and then transfer it into each room or zone via a heat pump. In summer, they work in reverse to provide air conditioning — absorbing the heat from inside a building and transferring it to the cooler earth below.

Higher Efficiency Than Other Systems

The Environmental Protection Agency found that, even on a source fuel basis — accounting for all losses in the fuel cycle including electricity generation at power plants — geoexchange systems average 40% greater efficiency than air source heat pumps, 48% greater efficiency than the best gas furnaces and 75% greater efficiency than oil furnaces. Today’s best geoexchange systems outperform the best gas technology, gas heat pumps, by an average of 36% in heating mode and 43% in cooling mode.

Outstanding Comfort Inside, Virtually Invisible Outside

Traditional systems have two major shortcomings. They heat or cool an entire building at once, with little or no ability to control comfort levels in individual rooms or zones. Second, they occupy tremendous space both inside and outside the building.

A geoexchange system creates an exceptionally comfortable working environment, giving tenants or building occupants precise temperature control, by room or by zone. Humidity levels are ideal. There’s no “blast” of hot air, or “cold blow.” Temperatures don’t fluctuate, so thermostats don’t need constant adjustment.

Geoexchange systems can compensate for morning or afternoon shade, heat buildup or temperature variance anywhere in a building. Larger areas such as conference or banquet rooms, auditoriums, indoor pools or fitness centers can also be controlled by separate heat pumps — so there’s no need to heat or cool the rest of the building if these spaces are used only occasionally.

Geoexchange systems are also much more compact than traditional systems, and out of sight. Mechanical rooms can be smaller. There are no boilers, smoke stacks or fuel tanks. No massive rooftop chillers requiring added structural support, labor and construction costs. No holes drilled in roofs to secure them either, reducing the risk of leaks. No above-ground equipment to be seen at all. In fact, the surface above a ground loop can be used for parking lots, walking paths or courtyards — an added plus for communities that want to protect or expand precious green space. And because geoexchange equipment is usually underground (wells and piping) and inside (heat pumps), it’s not exposed to damage from weather or vandals.

Added Advantages of a Geothermal System

A constant supply of hot water. Another geoexchange extra is plentiful hot water — an added plus for in-building cafeterias or restaurants, restrooms and maintenance facilities. In the summer, hot water is virtually free — produced by the waste heat extracted from interior air during the cooling cycle.

Year-round, geoexchange systems help make hot water abundant and up to 30% less expensive, by reducing the amount of electricity or gas consumed by hot water heaters.

Less maintenance, fewer interruptions. It’s a fact that traditional HVAC systems can be complex and costly to maintain. Oil and gas-fired boilers demand regular cleanings and component maintenance. Chillers need routine check-ups, fluid testing and replacement.

Both systems require the attention of skilled technicians to ensure reliable operation. And should either system fail, your entire building could shut down with it.

Geoexchange systems, however, are remarkably simple and reliable. They consist of standard heat pumps and ground loop piping. The polyethylene pipes underground can last up to 50 years.

Routine maintenance consists primarily of air filter replacement — which can be done by custodial staff — no on-premises technician is required. And in the unlikely event that an individual heat pump, water pump, pipe or valve should fail, that component can be taken off-line and repaired, without affecting the rest of the units in the building.

In recent studies by Kentucky Utilities and Nebraska’s Lincoln Electric System, operating and maintenance costs of geoexchange systems were estimated to be 12% to 19% lower than traditional systems over a 20-year period. ASHRAE manuals estimate up to 50% savings, with maintenance costs averaging 12¢ to 15¢/sq. ft. versus 30¢/sq. ft. for conventional systems.

Quick Payback Period. Geoexchange provides an excellent return on investment for any business that chooses the technology. New drilling and trenching techniques have also helped bring loop installation costs down in recent years to where geoexchange systems are on par with traditional systems. They frequently pay for themselves in less than 5 years — often, under 2 years. And continue to save thousands in annual heating and cooling costs for the life of the system.

Why You Should Learn More

Geoexchange is the earth’s most efficient, most environmentally responsible heating and cooling technology for commercial buildings. For a world of good reasons. It is unrivaled for economy — comparable to traditional systems on first-installed costs and vastly superior over the long term — with energy cost savings of 25% to 40% annually. It offers precise control of comfort levels in individual rooms or zones. It affords exciting new architectural possibilities, inside and out. Its simple design and equipment ensure years of reliable performance with much less maintenance than traditional systems, too.

Geoexchange also enables buildings to demonstrate good environmental stewardship, by utilizing a limitless supply of natural heating and cooling energy with no impact on the environment. Or on the world’s dwindling supply of fossil fuels.

If you would like additional information on geoexchange heating and cooling for your commercial property, contact us.

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