Trustees approve completion of Ball State’s geothermal project

Topics: Administrative, Geothermal

July 19, 2013

The Ball State University Board of Trustees has approved completion of Phase 2 of the university’s geothermal project. The board’s approval comes in the wake of the General Assembly’s authorization of a $30 million cash appropriation.

This authorization provides the funding needed to complete the innovative, energy-saving geothermal project. The trustees’ approval today allows the university to proceed with bidding on the remaining work, said Randy Howard, vice president for business affairs and treasurer.

The system has been widely praised as a potential model for other large-scale geothermal applications. Phase 1 of the project, which affects about half of the campus, is complete, and work already has begun on Phase 2 of the project. As part of Phase 2, the university already has bought two additional heat pump chillers, installed about 780 boreholes in the south borehole field and laid distribution piping to more buildings.

"We have written the book on large-scale geothermal installations, and we already are seeing the cost savings from the project," Howard said. “The board’s approval today will help us bring the full project to completion. "

The appropriation will fund the addition of more than 1,000 boreholes to the south field, modifications to the South District Energy Station to accommodate the new chillers, hot and chilled water distribution looping and modification of the remaining buildings to accept the geothermal connections.

Work on the final phase will begin this fall and is scheduled for completion in 2015. The system will be the largest ground-source, closed-loop district geothermal heating and cooling system in the nation and, when completed, is expected to cut the university’s carbon footprint roughly in half and save about $2 million a year in operating costs, Howard said.

The board also took action on a proposed plan to allocate the general fund budget for fiscal year 2013-14. The board previously had approved the planning parameters for the general fund budget. The budget provides increased funds for strategic plan initiatives and salary increases in addition to other campus priorities, Howard said.

In other business, the board approved a reduction in vehicle registration and parking fees on campus, effective in the fall of 2014. Registration will drop $30 below the current cost, Howard said, with no increase the following year as well. Parking rates for a full year will be reduced by an average of 12.4 percent in 2014-15, and some of the rates will remain at or below current rates at least through 2018-19.

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