Geothermal Community Could Be a Game Changer

Geothermal Community Could Be a Game Changer

The 1,500-acre Badger Mountain development in Washington aims for zero net energy, thanks to high-performance Bosch geothermal systems.
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The Badger Mountain development in Washington State, now under way, is designed for 5,000 mixed-use units all on geothermal systems.

Green Builder Media

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 9:00am

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living

CONTENT: Article

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF solar leasing, a relatively new, effective way of introducing solar PV into the mainstream. Now the thermotechnology industry is using the same type of approach, something called thermal service providers, to sell thousands of new homeowners on geothermal heating and cooling.

The key, says Mark Stimson, business development manager for Bosch Thermotechnology, is taking the highest cost of geothermal loop off the table: excavating and drilling to install the ground loop.

At Badger Mountain he says, “they were looking to build a master-planned community that would really stand out. They connected with Orca Energy, which has a thermal service provider program. So you get all of the benefits of geothermal without the first-cost hurdle of the ground loop. The way it works is that Orca owns (and maintains) the ground loop, while the other equipment, heat pumps and so on, are amortized over the 20-year home mortgage.”

The result for homeowners, he says, is little impact on their monthly mortgage, but ongoing savings on energy use for the life of the home.

“Orca meters the thermal BTU of the ground loop and charges them a rate that’s lower than the local electrical rate, so they can end up with as much as 30 percent lower heating or cooling bills—depending on the climate, weather and how people use them.”

IoT Upgrade Coming

“The Internet of Things smart home is very much something we’re working on as a company,” Stimson says. “The challenge is to create interactivity between vehicles and housing with open-source software.” Bosch is working to introduce “smart” controllers that add on to the basic heating or geothermal systems. These wireless controllers will have a remote (smartphone-enabled) Internet capability and other features to make them appealing to homeowners.