Knoxville’s future public works complex, already slated to be one of the city’s most environmentally-friendly buildings to date, will become even more energy-efficient thanks to a $240,000 state grant.
The funding will go toward installing a geothermal heat pump, which uses the naturally stable temperature in the ground to heat and cool buildings. Though expensive to install, the geothermal pump will save the city about $3,120 per year over a traditional heating and cooling system, according to city officials.
The grant covers half of the $480,000 to bore holes in the ground and install tubing for the pump, said Erin Gill, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability. The entire public works complex, which is being built on Lorraine Street in phases, will cost $17 million. Demolition at the site began in February.
Funding for the geothermal heat pump is part of $3.1 million in state grants awarded to local governments for energy-efficient projects. Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Energy Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced the grants this week.
Though the heat pump is expensive to install, the project is worth it in the long run, said Christi Branscom, chief operating officer and deputy to the mayor.
“When we first started talking about the public works complex, we wanted to set the standard and be the model for what people look at our city and say, ‘This is what you look at to build an energy-efficient building,’” Branscom said.
The heat pump also will reduce air emissions by more than 45,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, according to the city.