Geothermal Pilot Program Breaks Ground in Massachusetts

A first-of-its-kind’ program will connect roughly 40 residential and commercial buildings to an underground geothermal network that will replace fossil fuel-powered furnaces.

1 minute read

June 15, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

White geothermal heat pump installed on the side of a house

Robert Poorten / Geothermal heat pump

A neighborhood in Framingham, Massachusetts will soon be connected to a networked geothermal system that replaces fossil fuel-burning furnaces with zero-emissions heat. 

Adele Peters describes the project in an article on Fast Company. The first program of its kind run by a utility in the United States, it will serve “around 40 buildings, including low-income apartments, single-family homes, small businesses, and the neighborhood fire station.”

Capturing underground heat is an efficient way to heat buildings, and can be made even more efficient by a shared system. “In Framingham, Eversource will use a looping pipe system that reaches hundreds of feet below street level. In the winter, liquid flowing through the pipe is warmed by the underground temperature and then brings that energy up into heat pumps in buildings. In the summer, excess heat from the buildings is sent back underground, providing air-conditioning.”

According to Peters, “The pilot is expected to cost $14.7 million, though costs will drop as utilities gain more experience.” Eversource, the utility, is paying setup costs for residents who agreed to be part of the two-year pilot program. “The approach could provide a smoother path to decarbonization than relying on building owners to make changes individually, at least in urban areas where there’s enough density to support this type of network.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2023 in Fast Company

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