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Geothermal energy is a very cost-effective alternative technology for heating and cooling buildings. It takes advantage of the fact that water below a certain depth is at a near-constant temperature (50 - 55 degrees). The water is pumped to the surface and run through heat pumps which can, through basic heat transfer technology, provide either heating or cooling. The water is then returned to the ground. The only fuel used in geothermal heating and cooling is the electricity for the pumps.

Geothermal is particularly well-suited to the municipal building environment, because the additional capital investment required over a conventional system is compensated for by significantly lower operatings costs. In general, municipal buildings are intended to be long-lived, facilitating consideration of up-front investments. More importantly, the most intense pressure on municipal finance is in the operating budgets. Many municipalities find it easier to secure taxpayer support for capital investments because they seem more like investments than spending and because tax increases to pay for them have a finite life. On the other side, the steeply increasing price of energy has squeezed operating budgets ever tighter, so an investment which offsets and reduces a rapidly growing operating expense is very attractive.

  • Needham Public Services Administration Building - Under consruction in 2009, this new facility will be heated and cooled using geothermal technology It will be Needham's first municipal building to use a non-fossil fuel-based source of heating and cooling.
  • Geothermal Notes - notes made while researching Geothermal systems for heating and cooling buildings. They have not (yet?) been organized for presentation or general use, but everyone is welcome to the information here.
  • Homeowner Workshops - Northeast Geo are the regional experts on geothermal. Their primary business is as a distributor of products used in geothermal systems, but the principals are widely acknowledged as go-to experts. The company hosts free monthly workshops for homeowners, contractors and others interested in geothermal.
  • Newbridge on the Charles - This Continuing Care Retirement Community is now being built on Route 135 just across Route 128 in Dedham. The heating and cooling for the 1 million square feet of buildings will be provided by geothermal energy. Over 400 wells will make Newbridge the largest geothermal installations in the region.
  • Newbridge on the Charles (with its headquarters offices in Needham) was one of two Needham award winners at the June Green Business Expo sponsored by the Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce. Green Needham participated in the Chamber subcommittee that put on the expo and was also an exhibitor at the event.