By Airman 1st Class Ryan Roth
Wisconsin National Guard
MADISON, Wis., (2/10/10) - With the rise in energy costs and a growing national desire to lower consumption rates, the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field is investing in an energy-saving system that can address both concerns.
The Wisconsin Air National Guard unit plans to tap the green energy in the ground to save money on heating and cooling bills for Building 500, the fighter wing's headquarters, with a geothermal system expected to be completed by November of 2010.
"We have Department of Defense mandates to comply with, and tapping the energy in the ground is one way to fall within those mandates," said Lt. Col. Kevin Philpot, 115th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.
This project was designed within the long-term goal of reducing facility energy consumption in the Air Force three percent annually by 2015.
The Air Force is continually looking for more green and cost-effective ways to operate.
"The geothermal system will cost about $120,000 more than a conventional heating and cooling system but can pay for itself in approximately 7.5 years," said Maj. David Mack, assistant base engineer for the 115th Fighter Wing.
The system takes advantage of the stored thermal energy found below the ground's surface. The geothermal system here will consist of 70 wells drilled into the field just outside of Building 500, tapping into some of that stored energy.
Pipes will be installed in each well, making a circuit starting and finishing inside Building 500. A non-freezing liquid, glycol, will be pumped through these pipes and the temperature of the ground will help heat or cool the building, depending on the season.
When the project is complete, grass will be replanted in the field and no green space will be lost.
"As engineers we are looking at the long term to see how we can save money and meet the government mandates," Philpot said.