Fuqua School, Virginia

Fuqua School of Farmville, Virginia, seventy miles west of Richmond, has a population of nearly 700 students from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. In 1994, a general purpose building was added to the lower school campus. True to Fuqua Schools dedication to science and technology, alternatives were explored to determine the most efficient system for heating and cooling the new building. While projected cost savings were a major reason for choosing geothermal, Fuqua School realized many other benefits as well. Fuqua's 18,000 square foot lower school's general purpose building is designed to fit diverse needs. It consists of classrooms, a computer center with 20 computers, a music and art center, a media center with 14 additional computers, administrative offices, a library, a science lab, and a 7,000 square foot auditorium/gymnasium which is also used as a lunchroom for children pre-kindergarten through grade five.

The installation at Fuqua has a closed-loop, 52 ton, water source system. There are 36 wells, 6 inches in diameter and 285 feet deep. There are 1,625 gallons of water with no antifreeze solution added. Two-thirds to three quarters of the energy needed to run the heat pumps comes naturally from the ground. The temperature is 57 degrees Fahrenheit below 32 feet. There are more than 4.7 miles of 1and 2 inch piping installed below the surface.

Virginia Power senior energy efficiency representative, Jeff Nipper, reports that Fuqua's projected cost savings is now being realized. "With their geothermal system, Fuqua School's total annual energy cost for the building are running at just 90 cents per square foot. That's great, when you compare to the average of $1.25 to $2.50 per square foot which schools with conventional heating and cooling systems generally pay."

According to Rebecca Kelly, Dean of the Lower School, teachers, students and administrators are all happy with the geothermal system. "We particularly like the temperature control we have in individual areas," she reports. "We may need the gym to be at one temperature while the library or the classrooms can be at another temperature. We can even heat and cool different parts of the building at the same time if we want."

Ms. Kelly adds that the system is very quiet and clean since everything is underground and there is so little maintenance involved, "we hardly know it's there. Most of all," says Ms. Kelly, "geothermal heating and cooling creates the type of environment that makes learning easier. In everything we do, we put the children first, giving them a pleasant relaxing place to learn. That's what Fuqua School is all about."