Geothermal Heats Up

Oct. 11, 2011

Direct use of geothermal, primarily heat pumps, is on the rise as demand for electricity expands worldwide and energy prices increase. Geothermal heat pumps provide an efficient and reliable option for residential, commercial, and institutional building owners by exploiting the nearly constant temperatures found beneath the earth’s crust.

Army Aims for Net-Zero

The U.S. Army, which owns more than a billion square feet of building space, has recently adopted ASHRAE 189.1 as its high-performance building standard.

Coupled with this goal are its LEED Silver building requirements and a goal of net-zero energy, water, and waste for 17 of its existing facilities.

The Army has already reached LEED Gold on several projects and is on track to achieve LEED Platinum on others, which will offer valuable experience as the net-zero pilot program launches this year.

The net-zero retrofit project includes two integrated net-zero locations – Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Carson in Colorado – which will aim to achieve net-zero status in all three areas. Others will start by targeting one aspect of net-zero, such as the United States Military Academy at West Point, which will focus on energy.


“The potential for geothermal heat pumps is high, but installations currently represent just 1% of the heating and cooling market,” according to Mackinnon Lawrence, industry analyst. “However, growing electricity demand, rising energy prices, and increasing regulation around emissions and efficiency are all expected to push demand higher.”

“Used on their own, geothermal heat pumps are capable of producing large reductions in energy use and peak demand in buildings,” Lawrence says. “Used in conjunction with clean energy generation and whole-building efficiency measures, the benefits of using heat pumps increase sustainability.”

Geothermal Heat Pumps and Direct Use, the new report by Pike Research, analyzes the global market opportunity for direct utilization of geothermal energy with a primary focus on heat pumps.

Learn how commercial buildings are taking advantage of geoexchange systems in the September issue of BUILDINGS.

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