Mile high capitol building taps geothermal for heating and cooling

According to a statement issued by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, the state capitol building will utilize an open-loop geothermal system to save nearly $100,000 in heating and cooling costs. The $6 million project will be financed in part by a Department of Energy grant and Chevron.

Ground broke last week in the first phase of the geothermal project that will use water from the Arapahoe Aquifer, over 900 feet below the steps of the capitol. According to project plans, water will be extracted from the aquifer to use the consistent 55-degree temperatures to heat the capitol in the winter and cool the building in the summer.

Gov. Ritter said the project highlights the state’s geothermal resources and will save taxpayers thousands.

“This is a great project to highlight the significant potential that geothermal energy has here in Colorado, and it serves as a shining example of how the New Energy Economy creates jobs, diversifies our energy resources and bolsters energy security,” Gov. Ritter said in a statement last week.

A $4.6 million DOE grant will be supplemented with $1.4 million from Certificates of Participation and lease-purchase agreement with Chevron. Under the terms of the agreement, Chevron will guarantee utility savings are high enough to make the annual lease-purchase payments.

The second phase of the project will begin next spring, which will include HVAC upgrades and the drilling of a second water well.