Geothermal systems - also known as earth-energy, ground-source heat pump, and geoexchange systems - have been in existence for almost 50 years.

Drilling the boreholesThe geothermal system provides heating to a building in the winter, and cooling in the summer.  The system consists of a heat pump inside the building, and a field of boreholes drilled vertically into the ground.  These boreholes can be installed in an adjacent field, under a parking lot, or underneath the building itself.  Pipes are inserted into the boreholes and a mineral glycol solution runs through them.  In the summer, heat is taken out of the building and stored in the ground.  In the winter, the stored heat is taken out of the ground and returned to the building.

A geothermal system is used to heat and cool the Instructional Centre.  The well field - where the boreholes were drilled - is located in the football field adjacent to the building.  There are a total of 117 boreholes, which are each 168 meters (about 550 feet) deep.  Since there is no need for a separate boiler and chiller to heat and cool the building, this system saves a significant amount of energy.  The only energy used is a small amount of electricity to run the pumps.  The Instructional Centre is certified LEED silver.

Schematic of geothermal boreholes next to Instructional Centre

For more information on ground-source heat pumps, see Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency.