Warm tidings: GCC likely to get $525,000 for new heat pump

July 28, 2009

With $525,000 in federal funding, Greenfield Community College could literally pump up its reputation as a renewable energy center in the region.

The funding in a House bill announced this week would pay for planning, design and installation of a hybrid geo-thermal heat pump for the college’s renovated main building.

Such systems use the earth as a heat source in winter, or cooling source in summer to drastically reduce HVAC cost over a system that burns fossil fuels.

Inclusion of the geothermal system in the coming year’s Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which passed in the House July 17, was announced by Rep. John W. Olver, D-Mass., a member of the House Appropriations Committee. It must still be approved in the Senate and a reconciled version will have to be signed by President Barack Obama.

Although the $31.5 million GCC renovation funded through a $2 billion state higher education bill already includes two geothermal wells as part of a 16,000-square-foot entryway addition, the federal money would extend that system to provide a significant part of the cooling, heating and hot water for the 67,000 square-foot core, according to college spokeswoman Regina Curtis.

The geothermal project will construct a pair of 1,500-foot-deep columns at the core’s base, or a more horizontal ”open to-diffusion” well system to provide better atmospheric condition control and increased energy conservation. The system would replace natural-gas boilers, which have provided hot water throughout the building.