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Saturday, August 17, 2019

WCC Drills for Energy

Geothermal Wells Will Heat and Cool Building

WCC is letting the Earth heat and cool one of its busiest buildings. Drilling has just been completed on 140 geothermal wells adjacent to the College’s Occupational Education building. The 120,000-square-foot facility was built in 1982 and is home to the automotive, motorcycle, welding, HVAC, dental, and radiography programs, as well as administrative and faculty offices.

Most of us associate geothermal energy with areas close to volcanic activity. But it also can be extracted from other places where the Earth’s core is a reasonably constant 54 to 56 degrees. At a well depth of 400 feet, geothermal energy can easily be extracted even in the middle of a frigid Michigan winter. That’s because it originates from heat retained in the Earth’s core. That heat is the byproduct of radioactive decay created by minerals and solar energy absorbed on the surface over the lifetime of our planet.

The new wells and other building renovations for the WCC facility represent $13.5 million of a $14.8 million state-funded construction program for the College. The building also will receive extensive mechanical upgrades, new lighting and ceiling fixtures throughout, and an infusion of green technology. Most of the changes will be behind the scenes and not easily noticed.

However, students and guests on campus will be able to see a new vegetative roof on the structure. In areas not covered by vegetation, a highly reflective material will be installed. A mezzanine level also will be added to the one-story building to create a student lounge area.

The renovations will be completed in fall 2011. That’s just in time for students enrolled in the College’s new environmental science associate degree program to learn from the technology in action.

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