Geothermal Distributor Walks The Walk

NextEnergy's office space and warehouse facility is heated using in-floor radiant heating. Shown here, in-floor pipe ready for floor to be poured.
ELMIRA, Ontario - When it comes to proper demonstration of a product, it is a good idea to have some working knowledge of that product. One company has taken the necessary steps to demonstrate the importance of its product by making it an integral part of its physical facility.

NextEnergy Geothermal Solutions of Elmira, Ontario, markets and distributes geothermal systems to meet the demands of the Canadian climate. In order to show the benefits of geothermal, the company became a "working model" of geothermal with the recent completion of its 25,000-square-foot building in the southern Ontario community, approximately 75 miles west of Toronto.

The building has a weather station that collects weather data specific to this site in real time to facilitate an on-demand heat loss/gain profile, showing real-time energy generation from the earth loop and the wind energy consumed.

"This assists us in running our geothermal system as efficiently as possible," said building owner David Hatherton.

The system employs a ground source loop made of 25,000 feet of 3⁄4-inch geothermal pipe. One hundred percent of electric energy consumed in the building is purchased from Sky Generation, a wind turbine located on nearby Bruce Peninsula, thus creating a zero-emissions building.

Hatherton and his wife Fran, co-owner of the building, wanted office and warehouse in-floor heating and cooling, citing it as "one of the most comfortable working environments available."

Geopipe must be spaced evenly for optimum heat transfer.

System Design, Features

Matthew Irvine, NextEnergy Commercial manager/engineer, designed the geothermal system. The system and in-floor tubing was installed by Just Geothermal Systems, ductwork was installed by Delta Mechanical, and the building was designed and constructed by Frey Building Contractors.

The system is made up of the following components:

  • Climatemaster Tranquility horizontal forced air units for cooling and humidity control.

  • Climatemaster Genesis water-to-water units for in-floor heating.

  • Rehau in-floor tubing.

    According to Travis Schmidt, NextEnergy business development coordinator, the ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 heat pumps, with ClimaDry reheat/passive cooling coils, allow passive cooling on the air side along with forced dehumidification when required to control dew point.

    "These units are located throughout the offices, usually hanging from the ceiling in the hallways," he said.

    The in-floor piping in the office and warehouse is installed at 6-inch centers to allow a reduction in circulating in-floor fluids at lower temperatures than conventional in-floor systems. "This is done to take advantage of the inherent efficiency/capacity gains of water-to-water geothermal heat pumps," Schmidt said.

    The office flooring is made with precast foam insulated concrete to help with the in-floor heating process and R20 plus insulation value is added between floors, which focuses on the heating or cooling.

    Approximately 25,000 feet of Geopipe is buried for the geothermal system.
    The system is controlled and monitored by an Internet browser based computer, which monitors, manages, and displays instantaneous energy produced by the geothermal loop and the wind power being consumed.

    This data is live online through an IP address and will reflect the actual real-time loads and consumption of all components in the building. This data will be summarized to display on-demand economics of the system to communicate the financial and environmental viability of the building.

    "With the thermal masses in the 300-gallon storage tanks, the concrete floors and earth loop, we have the opportunity to utilize time-of-use electrical rates by ramping down our energy consumption during high energy cost periods without adversely effecting building temperatures and occupancy comfort," said Schmidt.

    Some of the other unique features of the building and geothermal system include:

    NextEnergy’s warehouse structure. The warehouse houses over $1 million in inventory.
  • A heat recovery ventilation system is incorporated that has fresh air supplied through an earth duct 100 feet long to temper incoming air in the winter and summer.

  • Warehouse floor can be used as cooling sink for office cooling loads and mixed with earth loop to optimize in floor cooling temperatures using only pump watts not compressor watts.

  • Fifty percent of all energy used in domestic hot water production is recycled.

  • Domestic hot water is generated primarily by "desuperheaters" off heat pumps.

  • The warehouse has a 50 by 6 foot skylight and translucent loading dock doors which allow sunlight in, assisting in warming of the building, while reducing the number of lights needed during the daytime.

  • Ten-inch pipe runs underground into building for fresh air supply, which is connected to an 85 percent efficient heat recovery ventilator. Running it underground ensures the entering air is at a neutral temperature.

  • Earth loop can operate in series with in-floor to provide passive cooling combined with forced air humidity control to lower energy consumption in cooling by approximately 80 percent.

    For more information on NextEnergy, visit

    Publication date: 10/17/2005

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