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Eagle Mountain School Goes Geothermal

By Julie Tam
|  Monday, Sep 13, 2010  |  Updated 1:01 PM CDT
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Heating and Cooling From Underground

NBCDFW.com

The Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD is retrofitting itself for geothermal heating and cooling.

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Heating and Cooling From Underground

Eagle Mountain Elementary finds a way to heat and cool its building from underground.
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A 62-year-old North Texas school is taking a step into the future. When it comes to heating and cooling the school, Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth is going underground.

It's drilling deep into the ground 300 times over more than three acres.

"You never know what you're going to find until you start digging," Rick Martin, director of construction for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, said.

One thing crews knew they would find under Eagle Mountain Elementary School was geothermal energy.

"Now here's an example right under our roof where we can actually use the geothermal blanket to heat and cool our building," Paul Jennings, the school's principal, said.

Water runs through pipes 300 feet into the ground. The constant ground temperature brings the water to about 72 degrees before recirculating it back through to provide energy for the rooftop heating and cooling units.

"There's a lot of older technology and pieces of equipment in this campus," Martin said. "It's an energy hog today. It'll be an energy miser once the system is done."

Martin said the geothermal well system should pay for itself in less than 10 years. Eagle Mountain Elementary is the district's oldest and only school being retrofitted. And it's a lesson that will translate into the classroom, where students already are putting eco-friendly lessons into action by recycling.

The school is counting down the days until Aug. 15, when the principal hopes the installation will be finished.

"These old air conditioning units are very noisy," Jennings said. "The new units are going to be much better, so we're excited about that."

The cost of retrofitting is $1.3 million. The school still will pay for electricity used to run the system. For the past several years, new schools have been built with geothermal wells.

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