At its March 24 meeting, the Building Committee voted to remove geothermal wells from the building project. This decision came after the discovery of unanticipated contaminants during geothermal test well drilling at the Peirce Practice Field in February. After thoroughly discussing options presented by HMFH Architects and the project team, the Building Committee unanimously voted to reduce risks to project budget, environmental impact and schedule, by removing all geothermal wells.
When unanticipated contaminants were discovered during geothermal test well drilling in February, all test well drilling was halted and the project team performed an analysis of options:
- Proceed with the geothermal well field as designed in its current location = high risk
- Move the geothermal well field to another location on-site and redesign portions of the system = medium to high risk
- Forego a geothermal system, and redesign the building’s mechanical systems = low risk
Proceeding with the geothermal well field as planned or moving it to another location on the site presented unknown contamination risks and complex mechanical system design changes that would result in increased cost and schedule delays as well as potential environmental impacts. Though there may be a slight schedule impact, the Building Committee determined that the most environmentally and fiscally responsible course of action was to remove geothermal well technology from the project entirely.
Integrating sustainability features into the design of the new building remains a priority and the three core energy-related sustainability features remain:
- build a highly energy efficient building
- design for an all-electric building
- maximize onsite renewable energy production.
In addition, the Building Committee has directed the design team to further evaluate additional sustainability features that can be incorporated into the building.
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