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What It Is: Geothermal In Action

Russell O. Brackman Elementary - New Jersey

Charles Caramanna, Superintendent, Berlin Township School District:

"Back in 1987 we had a referendum passed in our township for eight and a half million dollars to build the Russell O. Brackman Middle School. Unfortunately, by the time the State got through all its approvals, it was a year later, and we found out when we went out for bids that the numbers were now antiquated.

When the first round of bids came in, we were a million dollars over budget. We came in at nine and a half million."

"We couldn't go back to the voters and ask them for a million dollars, and we didn't want to cut the school down where it would not be able to handle future growth population of our township, so we had to come up with an alternative.

Fortunately, we had our Clerk of the Works, Joseph Zartler, researching how we could still build this building, and he came up with a system out of Philadelphia."

"The cost of the system was going to be paid for over a number of years. The major overrun on the budget was a million dollars for heating and air conditioning.

"Our school, which we did not have plans for in the beginning, is totally air conditioned. The cost savings were tremendous as well as having a school that is really the state of the art for the future of our township and our students.

Every classroom is equipped with its own individual unit and its own temperature setting so if a teacher would like it a little warmer or a little colder, it can be done by just regulating the thermostat.

It's environmentally sound all year long. It keeps it a lot cleaner because we don't have to open up the windows and there is no unsightly mechanical equipment outside and around the building.

The closed-loop system was installed in the rear of the building. There are no visible signs of any equipment back there at all. The mechanical room is approximately one sixth the size of the original. "The energy bills for that school, one third the size of the Brackman School, are equal and sometimes even more than the Brackman School.

"Now we have probably the state-of-the-art middle school in Ocean County. I am very proud of the fact that we went with the system. The proof is in the pudding. We have the building and we are ready for the future."

Joseph Zartler, Construction Supervisor:

"The school district pays no maintenance on any of the units in the building. In the four years that we have had the system in operation, we have had no major maintenance problems at all. Not too far from here in the same township is the 35,000 square foot Lillian Dunfey School. This school has no air conditioning."

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