CareerTech Receives $1 million Grant To Go 'Green'
Workers laying out ground-source heat pump loop system before installation. Student training to become a HVAC technician.
A $1 million grant from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce State Energy Office will benefit three technology centers that are replacing aging heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems with "green" technology.
Northeast Technology Center, Pryor; Great Plains Technology Center, Frederick; and Caddo Kiowa Technology Center, Fort Cobb, will share the $1 million received through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant monies will be supplemented with local funding to retrofit aging HVAC systems on each campus with ground source (geothermal) heat pump systems.
"The objective is to become more efficient and reduce energy demand and consumption of Oklahoma's technology centers by replacing the least efficient existing HVAC systems with energy-efficient ground source heat pumps," said Jim Bullington. Bullington is the assistant state program manager for CareerTech Trade and Industrial Education.
In order to prepare technicians to install, service, and repair ground source heat pumps, the CareerTech system is also ramping up training in existing HVAC programs statewide, Bullington said.
Most CareerTech HVAC instructors have been trained in GSHP technology and are certified installers. Manufacturers are donating or offering discounted equipment to technology centers to allow students to train on the latest models.
"We hope to increase the number of skilled ground source heat pump technicians focusing on potential unemployed and underemployed Oklahomans," Bullington said. "The impact to the state will be significant energy savings from the installation of highly efficient ground source heat pumps in homes and businesses."
Ground source heat pump technology, often referred to as geothermal or earth-coupled heat pumps, take advantage of the relatively constant temperature of the earth to reduce heating and cooling costs. Conventional air-to-air systems must reject or absorb heat from the outside air to cool or heat a structure.
When the load on the structure is highest, outside temperatures are also typically high, and vice versa. Much less "heat pumping" energy is used by absorbing or rejecting heat from the building to the earth.
"While conventional systems were struggling this summer to pump heat from 78 degree buildings into 100-plus degree outside air, ground source heat pumps were pumping heat into the ground at perhaps 80 degrees," Bullington said.
"The life expectancy of a conventional HVAC system is about 20 years," Bullington said. "The earth-coupling component of a ground source system is warranted for 50 years. While the ground loop system adds an up-front expense that conventional systems do not, this is more than offset by the savings in energy and annual maintenance costs. In addition, future replacement of the mechanical equipment does not require the replacement of the ground loop.
"This technology has been available for more than 30 years but has been relatively slow to become popular due to the initial cost of drilling or trenching to install the ground loop systems. Rebates offered by utility companies and co-ops have helped but a 30 percent federal tax credit has helped sales and installation of these systems to soar."
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By Ann Houston
Communications and Marketing
Posted Nov. 15, 2011