The Edmond Sun

Local News

September 6, 2013

Official: Geothermal system will save money

EDMOND — Installing Edmond’s new Public Safety Center’s geothermal system, part of money-saving energy features, will begin soon, a project leader said.

Last month, city leaders broke ground on the southeast corner of First and Littler for the $27.5 million, 70,000-square-foot facility that will house the Edmond Police Department, Central Communications and Emergency Management. An off-site auxiliary building at 315 W. 33rd St. will serve various other Police Department needs.

This week, Timberlake Construction was building its site trailer along one of the streets that will be closed until the work is finished.

City of Edmond spokesman Casey Moore said thru-traffic will not be allowed on First Street between Broadway and Boulevard and it will not be allowed on Littler Ave. between Second Street and Main Street. Parking will be stressed during peak times throughout downtown as several areas near the construction site will be closed, Moore said.

The total project length is 720 calendar days. Police Maj. Steve Thompson, Public Safety Center project coordinator for the Police Department, said the contractor was given the notice to proceed Thursday.

Early construction work will include digging the basement and installing the geothermal system.

If you were to dig a big hole straight down into the Earth, you would notice the temperature getting warmer the deeper you go, said geothermal fan Bob Corff, energy services manager for Edmond Electric. Earth’s core is full of heat called geothermal energy, Corff said. Geothermal heat pumps tap into heat close to the surface to heat water or provide heat for buildings.

The heat pumps transfer heat by pumping water or a refrigerant — a special type of fluid — through pipes just below the surface where the temperature is a constant 50-60 degrees.

During winter months, the water or refrigerant absorbs warmth from the Earth and pumps bring the heat to the structure above. During summer months, some heat pumps can run in reverse and help cool buildings.

“It’s really very simple,” Corff said.

Corff said the geothermal system installed as part of the new aquatic center being built in Mitch Park has pipes extending 8 feet below ground.

Benefits of installing geothermal heat pumps in commercial structures include greater freedoms in building design due to 50-80 percent less mechanical room space, no outside equipment to hide, eliminating vandalism and rooftop units, pipes have a 50-year life expectancy and the maintenance free ground heat exchanger will last 40-plus years, according to the Stillwater-based International Ground Source Heat Pump Association.

Thompson said earlier in the process, he educated himself about geothermal.

“After that I became a fan,” he said. “It’s very interesting and very effective.”

Thompson said the Public Safety Center’s geothermal system will have a total of 140 wells, which will save taxpayers money and enable the Police Department to spend some of its budgeted dollars, if needed, to hire more officers or to buy materials.

In 2010, Edmond voters approved a half-cent sales tax to build the Public Safety Center. Voters also approved Proposition No. 2, which allows the city to loan itself $7.2 million out of the Hospital Trust Fund with an improved return of investment.

The Public Safety Center is being built for the 20-year needs of the Police Department. Planning for the facility took five years. | 341-2121, ext. 108

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