Earth Day is about bringing awareness to our environment and introducing new ways that we can protect and preserve our world. After witnessing the devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969, Wisconsin U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired to raise awareness to the public consciousness of air and water pollution, and he forced environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Through Senator Nelson’s efforts, 20 million Americans across the country held rallies that taught opportunities and demonstrations for a healthy, sustainable environment in the inaugural Earth Day on April 22, 1970.
It is 49 years later, and Senator Nelson’s vision to raise awareness and education on the environment continues to be shared generation after generation. Construction contractors are continuing to research and find new ways to building eco-friendly, economical buildings that limit pollution. As an 18 year member of the Wisconsin Geothermal Association, General Heating and Air Conditioning is in the forefront in developing and installing geothermal technology. For companies looking into options for heating and cooling that will utilize non-carbon resources, General Heating and Air Conditioning brings extensive design, development, and installation experience in geothermal mechanical systems.
What exactly is a geothermal mechanical system? It uses the difference between the air temperature and the earth’s ground temperature to either extract heat in the winter months or reject heat in the summer months. This allows the HVAC system to operate at efficiencies that are 25-50% more efficient than conventional electric and fuel burning HVAC systems.
The new Verona High School is being built as a “green” building with geothermal technology by General Heating and Air Conditioning. The 586,000 square foot school facility will have its environmental needs met by a geothermal borefield producing an equivalent 727 tons of heated or cooled air. The high school’s borefield is comparable in scale to Epic’s geothermal project, which was the largest geothermal installation in the Midwest as of 2018.
Noteworthy Facts about Verona High School’s Geothermal System:
· Drill rigs took four months to drill 220 bores, 500 ft. deep each.
· The 1-1/4” bore piping was drilled in a 20 ft. by 20 ft. grid pattern, and connected together by circuit piping in groups of 10 bores.
· 4” horizontal distribution piping brings the closed loop circuit piping back to the central pumping plant in the high school.
· The geothermal system produces 8,724 MBH (727 tons) of cooling in the summer and 8,667 MBH (722 tons) of heat in the winter.
Building eco-friendly buildings and projects is not the only environmentally friendly initiative that contractors are doing to help the environment. 1901, Inc. has implemented several in-house actions, from new paper and technology to eliminating the use of plastic, to protect the environment. They switched over to new paper that does not tear easily and is water resistant, which has prevented them from reprinting drawings for their Foremen due to wear and tear on the jobsite, and has reduced their paper waste.
1901, Inc. has also implemented a construction software called eSub. This new software has allowed them to move all of their submittals, drawings, requests for information, and employee time sheets to digital platforms, eliminating more paper waste. They also use a program called Bluebeam which marks up documents digitally, so they no longer have to markup hard copies of documents.
Eliminating plastic has also been an important initiative by 1901, Inc. The first step was by reducing the use of plastic in the office by providing silverware instead of plastic utensils, coffee mugs instead of Styrofoam, and a water cooler service so their employees can refill their water bottles. Over the past year, 1901, Inc. has reduced their plastic use by a third.
Lastly, 1901, Inc. participated in the inaugural Kids Building Wisconsin – Waukesha Expo with a reusable straws exhibit. Kids got to cut the stainless steel tubing to the size they wanted, then deburred the inside of the tube with a deburring tool, and then bent it with a tube bender. By creating these reusable straws, they were able to replace the plastic straws that would normally get thrown into a landfill or end up injuring animals in nature. It is also healthier to drink out of a stainless steel straw than a plastic one.
Whether it is out on the job or in the office, contractors are continuously working to make our planet safer and healthier.