Brian Huber, For The Miami Student

In Miami University’s latest efforts in the transition toward green energy use, the university is working to install a geothermal heating and cooling system to power Western Campus.

“The new geothermal system will power Western Campus,” Associate Professor of Geography David Prytherch said. “Currently, buildings like Elliott and Stoddard are already run by such a system, as part of a pilot project.”

Initially, the system will only run the dining hall and three residence halls on Western Campus, but will eventually run all of it. By 2025, the university plans to install a similar system on the north side of campus

“The first phase of this project cost $15 million, but it also included a lot of infrastructure improvements on Western Campus,” Director of Energy Systems, Doug Hammerle said. “Of that $15 million, roughly $12 million was used for the geothermal portion, which includes tunneling and piping to get into the building.”

While the initial portion of the project is funded, officials are still discussing plans for future phases.

“The first phase of Western was funded through the Long Range Housing Plan, which bonded that money,” Hammerle said. “The funds for future phases haven’t been totally decided on the financial side yet.”

During the first phase, this system is estimated to save between $100,000 and $150,000 a year, from the running of four buildings on Western Campus alone. These savings are likely to increase, as more and more of the campus is transitioned to the new geothermal system.

This follows in the wake of House Bill 251 (Advanced Energy Law), passed in 2006 that expanded funding for grants and also created a new rulemaking system for energy production incentives.

The university hopes that by 2025 these new systems will help the campus move toward a structure that will allow 40 percent of the campus to be run through the geothermal system, while the rest is converted to natural gas.