Construction has started at the former Bingham school in Bristol, CT, and once it’s complete, the former school will be affordable apartments for Connecticut’s growing senior citizen population. The same is planned for the former O’Connell school, also in Bristol. The plans for the former schools’ conversion to senior apartments were developed by Bristol Enterprises. The entity is a unique public-private partnership between private developer Park Lane Group in Litchfield, CT, and the Maynard Road Corporation, the non-profit development entity wholly owned by the Meriden Housing Authority.
Another unique aspect of the schools’ redevelopment is that both buildings will feature several energy saving systems including geothermal HVAC, solar PV, and co-generation units. The energy systems will help keep rents low for the senior population the buildings will serve, and reduce the environmental footprint of the buildings.
The energy systems are being developed and implemented by Advanced Energy Group (AEG) and Private Energy Partners (PEP), in conjunction with Geothermal Innovations (GI), PurePoint Energy, and others. The installation of the vertical geothermal pipe began in late April, and is also serving as a training opportunity for several individuals from Connecticut, New York, and other locations to learn the installation process of GI’s patented GI4 pipe that was designed to greatly reduce the amount of wells needed to be drilled for a geothermal installation, which in turn reduces the costs.
Trainees will also be taking a course to become certified geothermal installers by the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA), which is the gold standard in terms of ground source heat pump technology, research, and implementation. The purpose of getting the trainees IGSHPA certified is that these individuals can learn the process of installing geothermal, and eventually be able to lead their own crews during an installation.
The 24 Colony Street project is firing on all cylinders, and even had a special guest on-site this week. Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy, as well as several other city and state representatives and officials, were present for the official groundbreaking ceremony on July 8, 2015. Of the project, the Governor said in an article written in the Meriden Record Journal: “It’s about the redevelopment of an industrial city, it is about housing opportunities — affordable housing opportunities, market rate opportunities, senior housing — it’s about connecting this side of town with the other side of town where lots of work is going on.” Malloy is avid supporter of clean energy programs in the state of Connecticut, and has been impressed by the work going on in Meriden.
AEG President Jim Moran got to talk to the governor about the renewable energy aspects of the project, as well as workforce training opportunities for renewable energy systems. Also, the New England Renewable Energy (NERE) crew has begun installing the vertical geothermal piping. Once the crew finishes the vertical pipes, they will lay out the horizontal pipes and connect them to the vertical bores. Building construction will begin after that. Keep your eye out for more updates as the project continues.
The second phase of the Geothermal training program was completed earlier this March. The first phase involved studying the theory and methodology behind geothermal technology in order to pass the IGSHPA test, which certifies individuals to be geothermal installation professionals. In this second phase, trainees were were working in the field, learning about the full process of installing the Gi4 heat exchanger, an advanced Geothermal technology that was created by Geothermal Innovations.
The ten trainees pictured here will be hired to be part of New England Renewable Energy (NERE), which will work on the Yale Acres project, other projects in Meriden, and projects in other cities and towns throughout the region.
The Model Building also known as Building #3, is nearly finished. There are still some interior modifications that are currently near completion, but the solar thermal, solar PV, and geothermal systems are installed on the building.
Geothermal Innovations, AEG’s geothermal provider, is a pioneer in geothermal technology. Check out our earlier post about Gi 4 Heat Exchanger technology for more information on their latest patented product. Not only have they created a cost saving and more efficient way to harvest geothermal energy, they also have an impressive project portfolio.
The company’s founder Jim Hardin has 20+ years in the Plant & Facilities environment. His experience includes maintenance, conceptual design and construction of both the building and operating facilities. In this capacity he has managed disciplines such as electrical engineering and construction, mechanical and plumbing, HVAC, controls, structural (civil), interior fit and finish and more. Jim first used geothermal energy in the early 80’s for petrochemical plants in Brazil and later for similar installations in West Africa, while working for SEDCO Inc, of Dallas Texas.
Jim’s philosophy has been to focus on increased operational efficiency rather than conservation. In the last ten years, Jim has taken this philosophy to develop unique geothermal products which have expanded his business into a leading-edge company.
Geothermal Innovations has installed geothermal in over 900 buildings which total 200+ million square feet of floor space.
The last of the GI.4 Heat Exchangers were installed last week. Work will begin soon on the horizontal connections between the bores and will eventually be connected to the buildings in the geo-district. While the bore headers currently appear above grade, the entire field will eventually be beneath the frost line in order to prevent freezing.
Based on the Thermal Conductivity Test, Geothermal Innovations has designed a geothermal field for our three building “district” that will have 10, 400ft bores. Since only one of the three buildings is currently being upgraded to an Energy Star Model, the engineers were required to take into account the fact that two of the buildings will require much higher heating and cooling loads since they will not be as well insulated or have Energy Star windows. Once the remainder of Yale Acres is upgraded to Energy Star, the current geothermal field will be able to service four, four-unit buildings. Even though a bore could have been eliminated from the system design through use of a propylene glycol instead of pure water, it was determined that the trade-off in equipment selection restrictions outweighed the cost benefits of a reduced field.
All ten of the bores have been drilled at this point and the vertical installations of GI.4TM heat exchanger should be completed by the end of the week. Next week the vertical bores will be connected via vertical trenches and then will be connected to the basements of the units.
Installation of the GI.4TM heat exchanger differs from the typical u-bend pipe installation. Unlike u-bend which comes in large roles, GI.4TM comes in 20-ft sections that have to be butt fused together as it is installed. During butt fusion, the squared ends of two pipes are heated by holding them against a heated plate. The plate is removed when the proper melt is obtained and the ends are promptly brought together and the joint is allowed to cool while force is applied. This welding technique creates and extremely durable bond that does not run the risk of separating like mechanical joints can sometimes do. However, since the heat exchanger comes in 20 ft sections and must be welded, installation time per bore is typically longer than u-bend. For a 300-400 ft bore, a team of two requires 3-4 hours for installation and about half that time with the assistance of an excavator or crane, which allows for installation of longer sections. However, both time and money are saved in the overall drilling and installation process with GI.4TM due to the significantly reduced field size.
Once the heat exchanger is installed, it is grouted in place with a thermally enhanced bentonite grout from the bottom of the hole up. Grouting is usually quicker for the Gi.4TM product as it has a grout tube slot in the center of the pipe to make for easy insertion. It also requires roughly 25% less grout volume in each well than with u-bend. The system is later pressure tested at pressures above the system design to ensure that there are no leaks.
GeoNetZero hosted an IGSHPA Accredited Installer Workshop in Meriden, CT on January 11-13, and plans to host another training session in April or May. The workshop educated and trained individuals on how geothermal works and how to install the geothermal energy equipment. IGSHPA stands for International Ground Source Heat Pump Association which sets the standard for training and education about installing Ground Source Heat Pump (geothermal) equipment. This is from the IGSHSPA website:
The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) is a non-profit, member-driven organization established in 1987 to advance ground source heat pump (GSHP) technology on local, state, national and international levels. Headquartered on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, IGSHPA utilizes state-of-the-art facilities for conducting GSHP system installation training and geothermal research. With its access to the most current advancements in the geothermal industry, IGSHPA is the ideal bridge between the latest technology and the people who benefit from these developments.
The purpose of the training session was to supply trainees with the IGSHPA training materials and testing. As geothermal continues to become recgonized as a cost-effective and energy efficient way to heat and cool homes and building, training sessions like these offer an opportunity for HVAC employees, and others looking to gain new skills or pursue a new career path to become qualified in this growth industry.