LEEDing With Geothermal

ClimateMaster geothermal system saves energy and costs for a New Jersey school.

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The Christina Seix Academy uses a ClimateMaster geothermal system to heat and cool the campus. Shown here is the field house containing the gym.

The Christina Seix Academy, Trenton, NJ, took commitment to the community to great heights when the eight-building, 64-acre campus was built with sustainable materials and practices designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s, Washington, LEED-certification standards. The academy serves underprivileged youth in the Trenton-Ewing area who are living with a single-adult caregiver. The school was funded by businesswoman Christina Seix, who grew up poor and was raised by a single mother.

Working with locally based Spiezle Architectural Group, academy administrators designed a unique campus that promotes efficiency and conservation. Challenged with designing a campus to meet the needs of current pre-kindergarten and preschool students and faculty, the firm was also required to account for future needs as the school adds more grade levels and students and incorporates on-campus student housing.

With all buildings designed to meet or exceed ASHRAE energy-efficiency standards while achieving LEED-certification requirements, the campus includes renewable-energy elements such as active and passive solar building orientations and a photovoltaic solar-panel array.

The geothermal hub includes intake and output pipes from the well field. The design includes five individual borehole fields with a 196-ton total capacity, and a total of 106 boreholes drilled to 350 ft.

The geothermal hub includes intake and output pipes from the well field. The design includes five individual borehole fields with a 196-ton total capacity, and a total of 106 boreholes drilled to 350 ft.

Administrators supported specification of a state-of-the-art mechanical system employing renewable geothermal technology. The system, from ClimateMaster, Oklahoma City, uses water-source and geothermal heat pumps, including 68 Tranquility 20 single-stage TSH-series horizontal and vertical units, five Tranquility TRE rooftop-series units, and two vertical Tranquility 20 single-stage TSV-series units.

The system was designed by Haddon Heights, NJ-based mechanical engineering and design consulting firm Pennoni Associates Inc. The firm initially recommended a closed-loop geothermal system to provide conditioning in all buildings. During the value-engineering stage of the project, however, Bob Mellohusky, project engineer at Pennoni Associates, changed the design of the system based on the client’s needs and budget. “We discovered that we needed to make adjustments to the borehole field design,” he explained. “Originally, there was a centralized system for commercial and residential buildings. After review, we decided to use the same principle and the same equipment, but go with a decentralized system, which would separate the commercial facilities from the residential facilities, while helping with performance and reducing overall costs for the owner.” The final design includes five individual geothermal borehole fields with a 196-ton total capacity, and a total of 106 boreholes drilled to 350 ft.

Seix Academy serves underprivileged youth in the Trenton-Ewing area of New Jersey living with a single adult caregiver. The campus includes classrooms, offices, and student housing, all served by a ClimateMaster geothermal system. Well fields are in the foreground.

Seix Academy serves underprivileged youth in the Trenton-Ewing area of New Jersey living with a single adult caregiver. The campus includes classrooms, offices, and student housing, all served by a ClimateMaster geothermal system. Well fields are in the foreground.

With work completed in September 2012, administrators have already observed the energy and cost-saving benefits of the ClimateMaster system. “The economic benefit was a huge motivating factor for us because it meant that we could direct more resources to our students, and in turn, serve more kids,” said Dr. Rob Connor, Seix Academy headmaster. “We are pleased that this decision is already deriving the savings we expected.”

“The mission of the Christina Seix Academy is to teach underprivileged children to pay it forward like Christina Seix herself has done,” said Connor. “That means the students should understand these sustainable practices on a fundamental level. The hope is that they will go back to their communities to help them build and develop in efficient ways. It’s a natural fit to educate them on the importance of these issues—it also empowers them in amazing ways.”

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