Linda Kurtos | February 24, 2017
In an effort to heed Pope Francis’ call to be better stewards of our shared Earth and to start implementing the University’s new comprehensive sustainability strategy, Notre Dame has begun planning and installing several geothermal systems across campus.
Geothermal systems are sustainable energy systems that allow the University to reduce greenhouse gas production, increase energy security and capitalize on long-term cost savings. Notre Dame’s systems are tailored specifically toward heating and cooling campus buildings by taking advantage of the Earth’s ability to store heat in its crust.
Due to the rising heat from magma below the Earth’s crust, and solar energy absorbed on the surface, the upper layer of the Earth maintains a nearly constant elevated temperature despite fluctuations in outside air temperature.
Geothermal systems take advantage of this renewable source of energy by utilizing a network of water-filled pipes to bring heat from the warm ground during the winter, and deposit excess surface heat in the cooler ground during the summer.
Notre Dame’s systems work by circulating water in a closed-loop piping system to a depth of roughly 300 feet before returning it to the surface and distributing it through an energy center that acts as a heat exchanger. The heat from the Earth warms the water in the pipes to a constant elevated temperature of approximately 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, thereby reducing the amount of energy required to produce the desired hot or cold indoor air temperatures.