AFM Geothermal Possibility

Environmental Harmony, Annapolis Friends Meeting

Pagemaster: Bob Bruninga, PE
Meeting House and Lands Committee
lastname @

Environmental Heritage: Quakers have a tradition of simplicity and a testimony for the stewardship of the Earth. We are committed to living in harmony with our environment.

Almost everything we consume to date has originated with the burning of fossil fuels. This course is simply not sustainable and as a spiritual society with concerns for our fellow man and woman we hope to do what we can in sustaining our future for the long term. In our fossil fuel burning pie at right, the bulk of our consumption and damaging emissions comes from Coal for electricity, Propane for heating, and Gasoline for driving to and from meeting. All of these needs now in the 21st centruy can be not only met with clean renewable enrgy from the sun and wind, but they are actually less expensive in the long run!

Lets stop burning 1000 gallons of Propane/year
and switch Geothermal during our next HVAC replacement

Previous Evnironmental Initiatives: In 2011, AFM signed up for 100% clean renewable utility electricity via Interfaith Power and Light of DC/MD/VA. This eliminated our use of coal and oil for electricity. Then we just completed our own solar system in January, 2014. Earlier in 2011, we had also begun to support EV charging for members use of clean renewable local transportation instead of the estimated 30 gallons of gas we all collectively burn every Sunday driving to/from meeting.

Geothermal Heating: But the greater portion of our legacy of fossil fuel consumption for AFM is the $4000 a year we are spending (at an ever increassing price) on propane for heating. In 2013 oil (and propane) was up to nearly $4 a gallon making oil (and propane) heating cost more than straight resistance heating which has always been the most expensive kind of heating there was. As we ponder the eventual replacement of our 20 year old HVAC systems, it is time for us to consider a geothermal heating/AC system.

Non-Profit-Gotcha: A rough estimate for this project might be about $35k with $15k for the geo thermal wells and $20k for the two new 4 ton HVAC heatpumps. Fortunately, for the homeowner, just liks with solar, these up-front costs can get almost 40% of that value covered in tax credits and state grants. But, unfortunately, just like going solar, most of these government tax incentives are not available to churches and non-profits that don't pay taxes. So if we invested in Geopthermal outright, as a non-profit organization, we would end up paying nearly 40% more than a homeowner or commercial entity would pay. There are workarounds involving forming a corporation to raise the investment money and then the corporation takes the credits and passes them back to the meeting via reduced heating costs. Although this is done routinely for solar systems for non-profits, no one has proceeded with this approach for Geothermal. If anyone in meeting is a tax accontant and can advise in this regard, they are welcome to step forward.

Typical System: The image below is an example of a 6 ton Ground Source heatpump. The heatpump is in the center, the ground loop pumps are on the left, and a modern heatpump water heater is on the right. An old electric water heater tank is preserved in line to top off the water temperature and to provide backup capaccity for high demand. Note, this example is for a house with cast-iron radiators and so the heatpump is a water-to-water unit and not as common as most modern homes with HVAC duct work or what we have at AFM. For an air handler system the core heatpump unit would be similar but the sheetmetal duct work would make it appear much larger.

Trenches: The photo at right shows the 5' deep trench with the ground loop header piping to three of four 300' wells in this system. The 4th well is 20' around the far corner to the right. The 4th well is near the buldozer in the photo farther down the page.

Geothermal Installation Impact: For AFM, and long before our future meeting house will be built, we have plenty of room in our lawn area for the geothermal wells. The impact of drilling will not be anywhere near the significance of our personal front yard where the installation impact was enormous! The drilling truck was 30 feet long and needed at least 13 feet of overhead clearence just to get in, and then needed 33' of clear sky vertical clearance over the wells. This involved supstantial tree trimming as well. The photo here shows the impact on our home's front yard driveway after the well drilling rig has left and then the connecting trenches were dug.

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Bob Bruninga, PE