By: Emily Kulick
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop)- The Chattanooga City Council voted Tuesday, February 26 that Fire Houses 9 and 11 will begin the process to receive Geothermal Energy.
Geothermal energy is the heat from the Earth. It’s clean and sustainable, resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface. A geothermal heat pump system consists of a heat pump, an air delivery system, and a heat exchanger. This is a system of pipes buried in the shallow ground near the building.
Chattanooga Fire Chief, Randall Parker says, “We want to use it for several reasons, to reduce our operating costs, it reduces damage related to weather from hail stones because there are no outside coils to be damaged and it reduces the dependence on fossil fuels.”
Parker also says there is on average 30-40% reduction in operational costs related to standard heating and cooling. It typically has a return on investment (ROI) of several years, for example there is additional cost up front when you have it installed and it takes a few years to get that cost returned by the savings in the yearly heating and cooling costs.
“We try to control our costs for heating and cooling by building energy efficient buildings and simple things like Compact Fluorescent lighting, increasing insulation and other energy saving features. The resulting reductions control our cost of doing business. We are taxpayer funded so anything we can do to control costs is a good thing for the citizens as well as being responsible users of fossil fuels precious natural resources,” Parker says.
Greenspaces, whose main mission is to work towards regional sustainability by progressing the way we live, work and build, also has Geothermal energy.
Click here to hear Anj Mcclain, director of Greenspaces, explain how Geothermal energy works.
Mcclain says, “If the underground water wells are approximately 60 degrees in the winter and it’s 30 degrees outside, we only have to use a minimal amount of energy to heat our building since we use the underground heat instead of heat from the air.”
“It just makes more sense. To get this building at 70 degrees, we don’t have to start with 30-degree air, we get heat from the already warm earth. It’s much more efficient than standard heating and cooling systems,” she says.
Hamilton County school system is also installing a large geothermal system at Brainerd High School on North Moore Road, along with Red Bank Middle school and Signal Mountain. Chattanooga is slowly moving towards an energy saving environment thanks to the Geothermal heating and cooling systems.