J500 Media and the Environment

down-to-earth energy by jessicasb

For two years, I lived in what Treehugger calls “a well-kept secret.”

That is, a home or building that uses geothermal energy.

My decision to live in Dennis E. Rieger Scholarship Hall on the University of Kansas campus didn’t have anything to do with their use of geothermal energy. But it did teach me that even organizations as large and notable as the University can make good choices about energy use.

Geothermal energy works by pumping water into the Earth. Whereas surface temperatures change dramatically throughout the seasons, the temperature underground doesn’t. Water comes back “cool” in the hot summer days, cooling your home. Water comes back “hot” in the winter, warming your home.

More than 1 million homes in the United States use geo-exchange systems, according to Treehugger, and for every million homes like it, CO2 emissions are reduced by 9 billion pounds. Geothermal energy emits little to no greenhouse gases.

Ken Stoner, director of student housing at the time, said the geothermal energy system cost about $70,000 to $90,000 more than a standard energy system. But the University expected the energy-efficient system to pay for itself in about seven years.

All of these positives are leading to more and more buildings using geothermal energy.

Instead of avoiding talking about renewable energy, be it solar, wind or geothermal, more people and organizations should “try it before they knock it.”

Living in a scholarship hall run by an energy efficient heating and cooling system didn’t even faze me. Yes, our energy was reliable. Yes, the heating and cooling worked great.

‘Green’ living doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or strange — it can just be a matter of using what Mother Nature has given you and using it to your advantage. And that doesn’t need to be a secret.

— Jessica Sain-Baird

Thanks to YouTube for the video.


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