OU goes green with $2.7M geothermal project

Oakland University is getting ready to break ground on its greenest building yet, thanks to a multi-million dollar grant.

The $2.7 million federal grant will pay for a geothermal heating system for the new $63 million Human Health Building. The project also includes a huge solar water heating system.

“That is one of the largest, if not the largest, solar water heating systems in the Midwest,” says Jim Liedel, energy manager for the facilities management department at Oakland University.

Both of those systems are big-ticket items in green building and go a long ways toward achieving gold-level LEED certification. Geothermal uses a well to draw upon the earth’s constant temperature before the frost line. Solar heating systems pipe water through tubes in solar panels to heat them to near room temperature, thereby requiring less energy to provide hot water, for instance.

The geothermal heat pump and roof-mounted, solar thermal hot water array will provide the 160,000-square-foot facility with summer dehumidification of ventilation air, as well as cooling, heating, and domestic hot water.

Construction should start this summer and wrap up in 2012. The building will go on a vacant parcel of land on the northwest corner of the university’s campus. It will house the School of Nursing and the School of Health Sciences.

Source: Jim Liedel, energy manager for the facilities management department at Oakland University
Writer: Jon Zemke