Topics: Sustainability/Environment, Geothermal, President, Administrative

March 19, 2012

Ball State University's geothermal project will be officially dedicated March 20 with a ceremony for the nation's largest ground source, closed loop district heating and cooling system. The first phase is now fully operational, and construction on Phase 2 has already begun. When fully implemented, the project will allow the university to shut down its aging coal-fired boilers, cutting the campus carbon footprint nearly in half and saving $2 million in annual operating costs.

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. in Sursa Performance Hall, located in Ball State's Music Instruction Building. Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora and Hollis E. Hughes Jr., president of the university's Board of Trustees, will oversee the dedication of the geothermal system.

Keynote speaker for the ceremony will be Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist for the Rocky Mountain Institute. He advises governments and major firms worldwide on advanced energy and resource efficiency, has briefed 21 heads of state and had led to the technical redesign of more than $30 billion worth of industrial facilities in 29 sectors to achieve large energy savings at typical lower capital costs.

Ball State's geothermal system was funded with assistance from federal and state governments. The U.S. Department of Energy provided a grant of $5 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Indiana General Assembly authorized nearly $45 million in state capital funding.

Under the leadership of Jim Lowe, director of engineering, construction and operations, work was recently completed on Phase 1, which includes two geothermal fields, construction of the North District Energy Station and connecting buildings on the northern part of campus to the new distribution system.

Work has begun on Phase 2, which includes installation of 780 of the remaining 1,800 boreholes in a field on the south area of campus. Construction will continue throughout 2013-14 and will include a new South District Energy Station containing two 2,500-ton heat pump chillers and a hot water loop around the south portion of campus. The system will connect to 47 buildings on campus — eventually providing heating and cooling to 5.5 million square feet.

The geothermal project will be dedicated in conjunction with Greening of the Campus IX: Building Pedagogy, March 18-21. This interdisciplinary conference allows people representing diverse areas in university communities to share information on environmental issues.