Luther has made two substantial investments in geothermal technology. In 1999 Luther built Baker Village, a 33,000-square-foot, two-story student-housing complex. Luther’s student environmental concerns group (ECO), had encouraged the administration to utilize a geothermal system in this new construction in order to capture the constant temperatures beneath the surface of the ground.
It took some time to find architects and contractors familiar with geothermal, but eventually a system was installed that utilizes 88 vertical closed loops at a 150-foot depth. Luther’s Office of Facilities estimates the heating and cooling costs for Baker Village are 40 percent below similar costs in other buildings on campus.
In 2003 Luther built a two-level, 60,000-square-foot building for the college’s art and theater/dance departments. In collaboration with our electric utility, Alliant Energy, Luther chose a high-efficiency geothermal energy system to heat and cool the Center for the Arts (CFA). The system required drilling 86 wells to a depth of 300 feet in order to tap the constant temperature of the earth below the ground. Local contractors drilled the wells and installed the 248-ton system that includes 52 two-speed units ranging from one to 15 tons.
The building also uses a state-of-the-art Energy Management Control System, special humidity controls and sound dampening technology. While the geothermal system was initially more expensive to install, the added investment has already been paid back in energy savings in less than five years.