Tammy Mutasa, Garland Reporter
A new elementary school in Garland will use geothermal energy to heat and cool the campus, potentially saving the district money on energy bills.
A $17 million elementary school is digging 300 feet into the earth to save on some green by using geothermal technology.
Daugherty Elementary School will be the first school in Garland to be heated and cooled by the constant temperature of the earth.
"It saves the district a lot of energy costs," said Jimmy Gaffney, a geothermal engineer who has been in the business for a decade. "It's letting the ground do all the work. Since the ground is always constant, therefore [it] reduces the energy consumption that the building will require to keep it cool in the summer and keep it warm in the winter."
That translates to a 20 to 40 percent utility bill savings for the Garland Independent School District -- especially in hot summer months.
"If we can just reduce that cost by using the constant temperature of the earth to do all the work, basically, then the district is way ahead and saves a lot of the money," Gaffney said.
About 30 percent of the school -- the cafeteria, the gym and school offices -- will be heated and cooled using geothermal energy.
"It's our first adventure as a district," said Jess Hudson, Garland ISD executive director of school facilities. "In our future schools, we hope it's a springboard that will allow us to do some wonderful things in Garland ISD."
The 60-year-old school building was torn down in June to make way for a bigger building. The district will dedicate the building at the start of the 2013-2014 school year.