Top Jobs Finalists 2018

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The GeoStar Top Job Competition has been an integral part of the NY-GEO annual conference since its inception in 2015. Its objective is to highlight and recognize the incredible skill, talent, and creative imagination that exists in geothermal system designers and installers.

A strong group of applicants showcase exceptional geothermal heating and cooling projects. They range from new construction, including affordable housing, to retrofitting existing homes with special requirements, historic or landmarked buildings, structures in dense urban environments, a municipal building, low-income housing, mixed-use buildings, a school and college dorms. These projects will dazzle and delight you in the breadth and depth of the applicability of geothermal heat pump technology in New York State.

Another vital objective is to communicate to those outside the industry and to policymakers the variety of ways this technology can be applied, especially in situations where daunting challenges seem impossible to overcome and yet they are.

Each of the finalists receive free access to the NY-GEO conference and the winning finalist receives a $500 cash prize.

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Here are the Top Job Finalists for 2018


Schwamb Mill

2019 Top Job winner
GSHP Conversion of Schwamb Mill - Achieve Renewable Energy LLC


The 2019 Top Job winner is the renovation of historic 19th century Schwamb Mill in Arlington, Massachusetts, with a goal to create a bright and inviting Class A office space. The mill was circa 1880 heavy timber and brick structure of approximately 12,000 sq ft.

The project has two significant challenges needing special permits. It was within a wetland resource area and the only available space for the ground loop required crossing Mill Brook and a large sewer main.

The original plan was to install a gas line, but to distance form the main, the cost of was about $30K, plus the utility would not promise to get the work done on time. Instead, a geothermal loop system of 8 vertical boreholes with a 1.25-inch diameter HDPE (high density polyethylene) u-bend was installed with a variable-speed, central loop circulation that supports six WaterFurnace GSHPs.

The building has 24 zones. Three of the heat pumps utilize variable-speed compressors to condition up to six zones each. The other three GSHPs utilize two-stage compressors and support up to four zones each. Each GSHP is monitored remotely using a WaterFurnace Aurora Web-Link (AWL).

The building had a total heating and cooling cost of $6,415 for the first year. Of this, about $1,500 was for cooling a server room. The owner reported this is the quietest, lowest maintenance and lowest operating cost heating system of any of their numerous facilities. He will renovate an adjacent, larger mill using geothermal heating and cooling.

Here is the case study of Schwamb Mill and an article in the Green Energy Times about the GSHP Conversion of Schwamb Mill.


Siano Building

Siano Building - Buffalo Geothermal

A vacant lot in Buffalo was transformed into the Siano Building, a 12,600-sq ft, mixed-use building consisting of retail space and 11 apartments.

The entire building is conditioned 100% by 32 tons of geothermal heating and cooling, with each of the 11 apartments having its own heat pump for zone control. In addition, all the domestic hot water is generated via geothermal.

The 9 vertical loops are 225-ft deep and installed under the building, saving space and demonstrating a creative application in dense urban settings. As the building is cooling dominant a smaller loop field was needed, which reduced upfront costs.

The overall cost of installing the GSHP was several thousand dollars less than a conventional system by utilizing available rebates and the 10% federal tax credit, which together covered nearly 30% of the cost, dispelling the notion that geothermal always has higher upfront costs than conventional systems.

This project also has a payback period of zero, providing significant savings in the annual operating and maintenance for both the heating/cooling and hot water systems.

See the Siano Building and the NYSERDA case study.


The Glass House Zero Net Energy Project

The Glass House Zero Net Energy Project - Verdae, LLC

The Glass House, located in the Hudson Valley is an example of what the architect calls the "it" house.

To overcome some of the energy and comfort challenges of a "glass" house, Verdae first worked to overcome the thermal flaws in the original building design. The building envelope was tightened by insulating the roof and reducing the thermal bridging and installing better sealed and insulated glass doors. A LifeBreath heat recovery ventilation system was installed.

After this work, the second heating load design was 77% less (5-ton versus 12-ton load) than the first one. The redesign took the building from a heating-dominant to a cooling-dominant one.

A WaterFurnace Optiheat water-to-water heat pump was used for the domestic hot water in the radiant floors of the main and guest houses and for domestic hot water. A 5-ton WaterFurnace 7 Series variable speed water-to-air heat pump was used with a hydronic air handler to maximize comfort and efficiency for cooling both houses.

All thermostats are Nests that are accessible by a smart phone.

The multiple vertical loops were drilled to a 500-foot depth using 1.25-inch HDPE (high density polyethylene) pipe.

A 14-kW solar system with 48 SolarWorld pole-mounted panels supplied renewable electricity to achieve the net zero energy goal without changing the architectural design.

Here is the The Glass House presentation.


Red Clover Commons

Red Clover Commons - Blake Equipment

Housing Vermont, a nonprofit development company, creates permanently affordable rental housing throughout the state of Vermont. Red Clover Commons, is a 'green' facility built for a sustainable future. It has 55 housing units, in a 3-story building with parking in the basement.

The original plan was to use wood pellet boilers and a conventional air conditioning system, but the developer realized that did not meet the sustainability goal because it could produce as much or more CO2 as coal, and that demand for the pellets contributes to old growth deforestation.

The team recommended a geoexchange ground loop consisting of 24 boreholes 500-ft deep using thermally enhanced 1.25-inch u-bend HDPE (high density polyethylene). A near-frictionless magnetic bearing Thermal Care chiller, with an average COP of 7.2, was used with low kWh water circulation pumping technology. Low temperature terminal heating devices were used to distribute the heating and cooling instead of a forced-air system.

These technologies, by design, synergistically result in a "Near Net Zero Energy" HVAC system. The projected heating and cooling cost is only $20/unit per month, which is 75% less than the average costs of a standard apartment building.

Here is more information about Red Clover Commons.


National Grid Gas REV – Geothermal For All

National Grid Gas REV – Geothermal For All - National Grid

National Grid is the utility providing natural gas service to Long Island customers. This project is a test-and-learn demonstration project to determine the feasibility of providing clean, low-cost heating and cooling solutions using district geothermal systems to customers outside the company's current gas distribution system.

The goal of the project is to gather detailed data on cost, effectiveness and customer satisfaction and ultimately determine with the New York Public Service Commission and NYSERDA, whether the district geothermal can be replicated on a larger scale. The demonstration project was funded by grants and at no cost to the homeowners.

The site of the demonstration is Glenwood Village, a 55-and-older, fixed-income community in Riverhead. The manufactured homes there have been heating with propane gas and cooled with air conditioning units. Ten homes were enlisted for the project and received 3-ton Entertech heat pumps to provide heating and cooling.

The heat pumps were connected to a 30-ton community loop field system. The 20 vertical loops are about 250-ft deep under a common recreation area.

National Grid and the homeowners were very pleased with the results.

Here is more information about National Grid Gas REV – Geothermal For All.