Geothermal Heat Pumps

Article: Forks Market Gets $4.8-M Geothermal System

The Forks siteStep toward cutting carbon footprint

By Britt Harvey
Winnipeg Free Press, June 22, 2010

The Forks market is on track to becoming the greenest in North America, after Monday's official opening of its new $4.8-million geothermal system.

"This is one of Manitoba's, and possibly Canada's, largest and most innovative geothermal systems," said Jim August, chief executive officer of The Forks North Portage Partnership.

Geothermal heating is a sustainable energy source that takes heat from the ground through a series of pipes that can be used to both heat and cool the building.

The unveiling of the renewable energy system is another step toward what The Forks calls Target Zero, an effort by the corporation to reduce its carbon footprint. The Forks's geothermal system is 150 times the size of a typical home system and will reduce the market's carbon emissions by nearly half.

The system was designed by Brent Laufer, president of the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance, who specializes in complex installations.

Laufer said many Manitobans are turning to geothermal to keep their costs down, and those attracted to the system are not necessarily the type of people you might expect.

"You'd think with this kind of technology it would be younger people," said Laufer. "But I'm finding it's a lot of people retirement age who don't know if they can keep up with their heating bills on a fixed income."

And while $4.8 million might seem like a tough pill to take, Forks officials are fairly confident they will be able to reap long-term benefits.

"We were at a point when our heating costs were at about half a million (dollars) per year," said Paul Jordan, chief operating officer for The Forks. "It made a lot of sense to have a sustainable system that will see a payback in about 10 years."

The market might also eventually incorporate a geothermal system that could service its other main buildings, the Children's Museum, the Johnston Terminal and the future Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The geothermal project received financial support from Premier Selinger, who said his own home now operates with a geothermal system.

"Geothermal is something that we've been promoting for years," said Selinger. "Manitoba leads all other provinces in geothermal installations and it's something where I'd like to see the support grow and continue."

Article reproduced with permission.

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