The Kentlands Clubhouse in Gaithersburg received state recognition Thursday for its newly installed geothermal heating and cooling system.
Doug Hinrichs, a solar energy planner at the Maryland Energy Administration, visited the community center Thursday to see the system and applaud the Kentlands Citizens Assembly and two local companies that specialize in geothermal systems on completion of the project.
Construction of the system, which began this past summer and ended in September, cost about $250,000. However, the project won a $120,000 grant from the state energy administration’s Game Changer Program, which promotes innovative clean energy projects.
A geothermal heat pump was put in, using two standing column wells that were drilled 900 feet into the ground, said Mike Heavener, president of GeoSolar Energy. Systems with standing column wells are most commonly used in areas that have near-surface bedrock, like the Kentlands.
With this setup, water is drawn from the bottom of the deep rock well, passed through a heat pump, and returned to the top of the well. While the water is traveling downward it exchanges heat with the surrounding bedrock.
“It’s the exact model system that we want in Maryland,” Hinrichs said, referring to the “standing column wells” design, which typically requires 30 percent less drilling and therefore delivers a more efficient heat transfer. “We want to replicate the success of this project.”
The grant program requires energy monitoring by the installing contractor and a final report after one year of system operation.
In April 2013, the Kentlands Citizen Assembly Board of Trustees voted to replace the clubhouse’s conventional heating and cooling system with a sustainable alternative after one of the old system’s three units died.
“We wanted to take the lead on doing this from a green point of view,” said Tim Clarke, president of the Kentlands Citizen Assembly. “It is energy efficient, and it is a more progressive way of doing this kind of heating and air conditioning.”
Harvey W. Hottel, Inc., a Gaithersburg-based plumbing contractor, and GeoSolar Energy submitted the grant application and installed the new system. GeoSolar Energy also is rooted in Gaithersburg and is the distributor of Bosch, the equipment used for the job.
“These jobs are fun,” said Richard Hottel, chief executive officer of Harvey W. Hottel, Inc. “It’s not something that some engineer drew up and we just estimated the cost and put it in. It’s something we’ve created for this site.”
Clarke said it is estimated that the new unit will give the clubhouse about a 40 percent electric utility reduction annually.
In the two months the system has been running, the clubhouse already has seen between a 20 and 25 percent decrease in its yearly electric bill, according to Clarke.
“It’s already paying for itself,” he said.