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Celebrating Utah Climate Week – Day Two

Relocating creates the perfect opportunity to adopt environmentally friendly technology. When we made our big move to our current headquarters, we decided to invest in a geothermal heating and cooling system in order to reduce our environmental impact. #UtahClimateWeek

In September of 2009 Ace Recycling and Disposal constructed a new facility to house its growing waste disposal and recycling operation. As part of the design, a geothermal heat exchange system was installed. Unlike traditional geothermal systems that use the energy from the earth, a geothermal heat exchange uses the earth to store heat or cold to be used at a later date. The geothermal heat exchange system that Ace Disposal installed has the potential to cut the energy use of a building by up to 80%. In our case, we have achieved a more modest savings in the range of 50-70%. These are estimates because we can only compare to similar buildings in similar environments.

What is the Difference?
What is the difference between a traditional geothermal system and a geothermal heat exchange system?

A traditional geothermal system injects water deep into the earth where the temperature is high enough to create steam. The steam is then used to generate electricity for heat.

Geothermal heat exchange systems also uses water. However, instead of creating steam, the water is used to transfer heat or cold, into storage inside the earth. In the summer time, the water is sent into the earth to store the heat collected from the building. After storing heat all summer long into the earth, the earth becomes heated. When winter rolls around, the heat from the earth, with some additional heat added by heat pumps, is then used to heat the building. As the water heats the building, it gets cold. The cold water is sent back into the earth to store until the cold can be used again next summer. Once the heat is exchanged into the earth, cool water (stored in winter) is returned to the building where it is used to cool the building.

Ace Disposals geothermal heat exchange system has 17 miles of pipes buried 15 feet underground covering 13 acres. There are 8 heat pumps and 3 variable speed water pumps that are used to manage the water. The number of heat pumps used helps to ensure that we are only using the exact amount of electrical heating or cooling capacity that is required.

How Well Does It Work?
There are a couple of times in the spring and fall when the building temperatures are maintained without the use of any heat pump (electricity) power. The only energy used during these times are to run the water pumps. All of this is much more complex and expensive than a traditional electric or natural gas system. But it is well worth it because of the low carbon footprint of the system.

Ace Disposal is dedicated to a cleaner environment by using sustainable methods. If you have any questions about how our system works, please contact us and we would be happy to help! Next time a discussion of our 28o kw solar power system!