Seattle Public Schools expands geothermal conversion

Construction workers are working on geothermal technology at Adams Elementary School in Seattle.
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SEATTLE – The Seattle School District is ramping up efforts at going green and saving green by expanding its geothermal conversion project. Construction is underway at more schools to tap into the Earth's energy.

At Adams Elementary School in Ballard, 80 wells are being drilled 350 feet deep. A total of seven schools in Seattle will soon have the geothermal technology. It's something the district says is becoming its new standard. The project at Adams Elementary is slated to be complete in several weeks.

"When it all ties together, it'll be done before school starts," project manager Jeanette Imanishi said.

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The system sends water underground where it takes advantage of the Earth's energy and changes temperature to either heat or cool air in pipes. That air gives a building a consistent and comfortable feel.

"It's probably the best system we can do, the biggest bang for your buck," said architect Jeremy Theodore.

The district anticipates $30,000 of savings on energy reduction every year for Adams Elementary. The total cost for the Adams Elementary project, which includes roof and seismic work, is nearly $3 million.

"We're trying to be responsible," said Imanishi. "Every penny helps to stretch the taxpayers' dollars."

A state grant of a half-million dollars and a Seattle City Light rebate program are helping the school district fund the construction.

The reliability of geothermal energy has the district pushing for even more of its schools to harness the Earth's energy. There will be maintenance costs with this green energy, but project managers say the money saved by not using fossil fuel energy will make up for the up-keep costs.