Norton Commons, a 600-acre development in northeast Jefferson County with more than 850 single-family homes and 50 businesses, announced plans today to construct what it describes as the largest geothermal residential community in the country.
The development plans to construct geothermal heating and cooling inside its North Village community, which eventually will have about 1,800 lots.
“The move will provide homeowners with significant energy savings, improve comfort, maximize space, reduce the noise of outdoor units and decrease environmental impact,” according to a news release.
Marilyn Patterson, general counsel and marketing director for Norton Commons, said there are no homes yet in the North Village.
“It’s brand spanking new,” she said, adding that it could take as long 15 years to build out the community. The homes in the North Village will have 1,000 to 8,000 square feet, she said.
The release said that geothermal loops — pipes that collect heat from the earth — will be installed underground, and heat pump units of an efficient size will be placed inside each home in the development’s North Village community. That will eliminate the need for outdoor air-conditioning units, according to the release.
Geothermal units already have been used for some homes in Norton Commons, but this will be the first community in the development that uses only geothermal technology.
“It really is the best option, in our mind,” she said.
Patterson said Norton Commons does not have any plans at this time to retrofit homes with the technology.
The release said drilling for underground geothermal fields will start next week on the first 50 lots. Geothermal fields are spaces of ground where a geothermal system is installed to capitalize on high heat flow from the earth’s surface.
That work will be managed by Bucher Services of Aurora, Ind. Drilling for the next 75 lots will begin in the spring.
Patterson did not have an estimated cost to develop the North Village, but she said Norton Commons is expecting to get a bulk discount on the geothermal units. She said the geothermal units should have a minimal effect on home prices.
Norton Commons is installing a kiosk at its sales center starting in February to help existing and prospective homeowners learn more about geothermal heating and cooling, how the systems function and their long-term performance, according to the release.