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What It Is: Geothermal In Action

Austin School District - Texas

Bob Lawson, Building Supervisor, Austin Independent School District:

"We initiated the ground loop program in 1984 at one of the additions to our schools and we were well pleased with it after discovering that we had a low maintenance rate and a low utility rate.

"From that, we proceeded to install four more additions in 1987 and 1989. From there, it just grew kind of like wild fire and now we have some 49 renovations in the school districts with the ground loop system.

"We have five new elementary schools that are coming on line or are on line with the ground loop system. That's not including the Bailey Middle School project. This is our largest project to date, and we think it's going to be the most outstanding system we've got in the State at least and maybe in the whole country.

That's kind of giving you an overview of what we've done in the school district so far, and we're not through yet. We're still putting them in and still bidding them. Every time I get a little money, I do another school.

"One thing we strive for in the school district is the individual room control for the teachers. The teachers have complete control of their environment within their room, heating and cooling, and the teachers are absolutely ecstatic about the system. They love it and the principals of course like it because the teachers are happy.

"Another plus for this system is that any time the teacher wants to stay after work, the only thing she has to operate is her own system and not the entire building.

"We lose one of these units, we don't lose the entire building. We lose just that one unit, which is a big plus. With central systems, we lose a chill water pump or a chiller, we are down for the whole school. This doesn't happen with this system.

"This is another plus and the teachers can work any time they want to, after school hours, on the weekend. Any time they want to come in, they can turn on their system and operate it without having anyone's permission or turning the whole building on, which is another advantage of the system. "

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