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Last month, the Department of Energy applauded Ball State University for its campus-wide ground-source geothermal system, the nation’s largest geothermal heating and cooling system. Building on significant investment from the State of Indiana and the University, the Energy Department provided key support for the project with a $5 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Ball State system—which the university anticipates will save $2 million annually in operating costs and cut its carbon footprint by nearly 50%—is one of many Energy Department investments helping to reduce energy costs, diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and create clean energy jobs across the country.
Launched in 2009, Ball State’s geothermal system will replace four aging coal-fired boilers to provide renewable power that will heat and cool 47 university buildings, representing 5.5 million square feet on the 660-acre campus. To provide heating, the geothermal heat pump removes the heat from the fluid in the Earth and transfers it to the building. For cooling, the pump removes heat from the building and transfers it back into the Earth. Nearly every component of the Recovery Act-supported system was manufactured in America, and Ball State has contracted with more than 50 Indiana firms to complete the project, which included drilling 3,600 boreholes around campus.
Buildings consume about 40% of total energy in the U.S. Ball State’s geothermal system demonstrates the potential of sustainable energy technologies, and serves as a model for other major facilities and universities across the nation.