Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., has dedicated the first phase of a campus geothermal system that, when fully operational, is expected to save the school $2 million annually.
The new heating and cooling system is projected to cut Ball State's 85,000 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions in half. The U.S. Department of Energy says that the campus-wide installation will be the nation's largest geothermal heating and cooling system.
The geothermal system will replace four coal-fired boilers and provide renewable power to heat and cool 47 university building — a total of 5.5 million square feet on the 660-acre Muncie campus. Eliminating the coal-fired equipment will result in 36,000 fewer tons of coal being burned every year. The geothermal heat pump removes the heat from the fluid in the ground and transfers it to the building. For cooling, the pump removes heat from the building and transfers it back into the ground.
Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora says the university still needs $20 million to complete the project, and it's looking to secure state, federal or grant funding. The portion of the system that is already running will save the university $1 million annually and when completed.