Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Monroe Hall Sets a Trend for Sustainable Energy with Geothermal System at the W&M Campus

President Rowe photographed the drilling for geothermal well fields at Monroe Hall. A construction crew installs wells for the geothermal system that will heat and cool Monroe Hall. (Photo by Stephen Salpukas/W&M News)

WILLIAMSBURG — As part of the Housing and Dining Comprehensive Facilities Plan, William & Mary (W&M) is installing a geothermal system that aims to efficiently and sustainably heat and cool Monroe Hall according to W&M News.

The new system, expected to be up and running when students return in 2024, is being installed behind Monroe Hall near the Sunken Garden and Richmond Road.

Monroe Hall is the first building at W&M to connect to a geothermal system, according to the report.

Christopher Bailey, professor and chair of the geology department, explained how in most places, the temperature gradually increases as one goes deeper into the earth due primarily to small amounts of radioactive elements in rocks and sediment. As they decay, they release heat. Because rocks are slow conductors of heat, heat increases with depth.

The geothermal system will improve energy efficiency while decreasing the university’s carbon footprint without compromising the aesthetics of the campus. Maggie Evans, associate vice president for student affairs, noted W&M will eventually add signage or other information in the building so they can better understand the engineering, planning, design and benefits of the project, according to the report.

W&M News reports the university will renovate or replace 80% of its campus residences and add two new dining spaces to the campus over the next decade, and the geothermal systems that are part of that plan as part of W&M’s Climate Action Roadmap.

Old Dominion Hall and the new West Woods housing and dining facilities will also connect to a geothermal system. Both projects are slated for completion in 2025, it added.

In addition to boosting energy efficiency, the transition to geothermal systems will significantly cut costs, states W&M News.

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