Going Underground on Campus: Creates Jobs, Saves Money and Reduces Carbon Footprint

When a campus such as Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana determines to reduce coal use by 30,000 tons, save $2 million, and cut carbon pollution by 50% each year, it is news.  Multiply that effort by 160 campuses in 42 states, and it becomes an encouraging trend documented in a new report by NWF’s Campus Ecology Program, Going Underground on Campus, written by Stan Cross, David Eagan, Paul Tolme and others.  In addition to surveying five types of geothermal energy systems on campuses (including ground-source heat pumps, direct geothermal, acquifer thermal, lake-source cooling, and geothermal electricity) as well as earth-integrated buildings, the report examines encouraging job prospects in the related fields.  For example, the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO), the non-profit trade association of geothermal heat-pump industry, whose recent endorsement of the study was picked up by MSN and elsewhere, anticipates 1 million new heat-pump intallations by 2017 creating 100 thousand new jobs.  The study also cites findings by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), noting that jobs in direct geothermal will tend not only to create more jobs than conventional fossil fuels (e.g. 2,500 jobs per 500 MW natural gas plant versus 27,000 for geothermal energy), but longer-term and better paying jobs as well, especially for those with two or four-year degrees.