NO MATTER WHAT SIDE OF THE FENCE WE'RE ON WITH CLIMATE CHANGE, the definition of “Sustainable Development” speaks to our collective hearts:
“Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
What are the needs of the present and the future? When speaking of sustainable buildings, we need:
- Buildings in which we can work, live and play
- Buildings that are energy efficient with cost effective measures throughout
- Buildings and systems that are long lasting
Most of the time, long lasting products that provide energy efficiency cost more than other basic products. But the price should be in line with a reasonable time for a return on investment (ROI). When an entity has set the time-period for the ROI, we call that their “Hurdle Rate”. Sometimes a product has enough value to a consumer that they re-think the acceptable ROI time-frame, extending their hurdle rate further out.
St Petersburg, FL led the way in 2012 with the city’s first Net-Zero building near downtown. After 4 years of operation, the Sierra Club (the building’s anchor tenant) said the Net-Zero patterns were clear to them:
First make the building tight; second install geothermal heating and cooling; third, put in enough photo-voltaic collectors to cover the balance.
Every building needs heating and cooling. As such, choosing the longest lasting, most comfortable and energy efficient products should cover all of the bases. Energy efficiency aside, what we really want is a dependable and comfortable system. Superior comfort and system longevity is a welcome bonus that comes with geothermal systems.
Health and safety are also considerations. Geothermal eliminates cooling towers (often used in larger commercial buildings). Additionally, the elimination of outdoor equipment, related water consumption and noise are all remarkable bonuses. That’s why geothermal heating and cooling is a “Masterpiece of Sustainability” in both form and function.
Disney’s Wilderness Preserve installed a geothermal heating and cooling system more than 20 years ago. Anybody can visit the Preserve and enjoy this masterpiece of comfort and sustainability. And while there, enjoy some of the most beautiful preserve land in the state of Florida; 17,000 acres of it. You’ll notice something when you walk up to the visitor’s center. There is no equipment noise. It’s a surreal experience that only comes only with geothermal systems.
Just like the many other “All Geothermal” Communities, Orlando is perfectly placed for a truly sustainable geothermal community. Downtown business districts and mixed-use locales are converting to geothermal in greater numbers. You can be certain that Orlando is not far behind.
Come to the Orlando Sustainability Symposium and see for yourself why geothermal heating and cooling is at the heart of Orlando’s Sustainability Focus. See you there!
Jay Egg is a geothermal consultant, writer, and the owner of EggGeothermal. He has co-authored two textbooks on geothermal HVAC systems published by McGraw-Hill Professional. He can be reached at email@example.com