Notre Dame uses geothermal to meet emissions reduction goals

Jul 18, 2017


Credit Matthew Rice via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Notre Dame continues to work on lowering carbon emission on campus with, among other things, geothermal energy.

Notre Dame’s first geothermal field came online last fall. The field is a series of holes and other equipment that use the constant temperature of the Earth to heat and cool buildings.

This first one, called the East Quad field, lowers the university’s carbon emissions by about 1,300 tons per year.

Paul Kempf is the Senior Director of Utilities and Maintenance at Notre Dame. He says the midwest is a great area for geothermal.

“We’re neither cold nor hot all the time and so when you might be raising, slightly, the temperature of the earth in the summer when you’re rejecting heat, in the winter you’re pulling it back out. Sort of a balanced system so you can use it over and over again, year after year.”

Kempf says the fields are part of an effort to lower Notre Dame’s carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2030, but they’re not the only project.

“Our approach has been to look at a variety of options. I always tell people it’s a lot like buying stocks. You could put all your money into one and hope you made a really good choice or you can pick a diverse portfolio.”

First the university is working to stop using coal, mostly with natural gas, then add renewable energy projects to meet the emissions goals.

“So it’s sort of a multifaceted approach to drive ourselves to that point and we have every intention to be off coal by 2020.”

He says two other geothermal fields will come online at Notre Dame in 2018 and 2019. Together the three will lower carbon emissions by more than 11,000 tons per year.

  Disclosure: The University of Notre Dame is a financial supporter of WVPE.