Some good green news from Wednesday’s Providence Journal…
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. — When The Charlestown Package Store reopens this spring, customers will see that the original hole-in-the-wall business has been replaced by a much larger structure with a two-story, timbered lobby.
What will be less obvious is the specially designed geothermal system that will heat, cool and dehumidify the new building without burning a drop of oil or gas.
The system will rely on three wells that will draw water from 450 feet underground, where the temperature is 45 to 55 degrees year-round.
It’s not new or radical. In fact, one reason our houses in New England have cellars is to keep us from freezing our feet in the winter. It’s a big cost up front, but once it’s working it’s inexhaustible. Why don’t we use this more?
“The sexiness of solar and wind — it just isn’t there with geothermal,” says Connie McGreavy, executive director of the Rhode Island Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. “Maybe people have trouble grasping it because they can’t see it.”
Even those in the industry aren’t sure why geothermal doesn’t get more attention.
“Nobody ever talks about geothermal,” says Hazard Stewart, owner of Newport Geothermal. He says his company has installed about 20 systems in Rhode Island. Customers range from the owners of single-family houses to larger commercial buildings. It’s easier to install a system with a new house, but Stewart says he has retrofitted old houses as well.
With federal tax credits, a geothermal system can pay for itself in two or three years, Stewart said. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions that this is all more difficult than it is.”
The Charlestown Package store also made a point of hiring local workers for the renovations.
I’m still using 19th century technology myself, wishing I had the bucks to re-make my house, and waiting for prices to come down.
I wonder how this would apply to buildings like elderly high rise? There could be huge savings if it works. If I win the Megabucks (I don’t buy tickets, but my odds are as good as if I did) I’ll build a tiny, Japanese-style beach house with geothermal heated floors and huge windows, and sit watching the snow on days like this. Drinking sake from the Charlestown Package Store.
That was actually a 60′s fantasy of clean electric heat. Remember the ads? Electric, of course, is expensive, but I loved the children playing on the white wall-to-wall watching the blizzard through the picture window. It’s still sexy to me.