A Geothermal Community in Cape Cod


Provincetown, MA has always been known as a place full of potential.  Located on the outermost tip of the stretch of Cape Cod, it was here where the Pilgrims decided to land and sign the Mayflower Compact in 1620.  In addition to its historic significance, it is also serving as a place full of potential and innovation in the geothermal industry.  Recently a team has come together to create a unique geothermal system design where a single loop field supplies a community of ten different buildings and homes.

Cliff Schorer of CJS Holdings Inc. is a commercial developer who has always been interested in green technology.  Even though his company mostly dealt with commercial property, he saw an opportunity in environmentally friendly residential homes and decided to delve into this new field.  Using his experience in commercial development and working with George Hu, PE & LEED AP from Air Water Energy Engineers, Inc., they developed a plan for a special environmentally friendly community that would use a single geothermal loop to supply all of the buildings and homes.

Ten buildings supplied efficiently from a single geothermal loop field is no small task.  This design uses nineteen vertical loops to gain a capacity of forty-four total tons.  While commercial jobs much larger than this have been installed in various schools and buildings, this project is unique in the fact that it involves a residential community that is tied together with a very efficient and state of the art geothermal system.  One of the homes involved in the project will use a geothermal radiant heating system to heat the home through warming the floors.  If you’re going to wake up on a cold morning and step onto the floor, I can’t think of anything better.

Mercery Mechanical is the commercial division of New England Renewable Energy Systems.  Because of their extensive expertise in larger commercial projects, they were awarded the opportunity to install this Provincetown, MA geothermal project.  Even though the project is for a residential community, the complexity of the balancing and mechanics make it similar to a commercial project.  After a sonic drilling crew came and drilled the holes for the loops and inserted the pipes, Ed Malloy and Scott Handrahan took on the task of working to hook up the pipes to the pumping unit and install the mechanical components of the system.

One of their biggest challenges came in fitting the loop manifold into the pump room.  With larger geothermal systems, a manifold is needed to take the multiple loops and combine them into larger pipes that feed into the pumps and geothermal units.  In this case, Scott had his team take thirty eight pipes (two for each loop), bring them into the pump room and tie them into the manifold.  Geothermal pipes are made out of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and must be heat fused in order to join together.  This process makes the joints of the joined pipes stronger than the actual pipes themselves, but requires a lot of heat and a fusion tool.  Working in the pump room and maneuvering the fusion tool and welding thirty eight pipes together into the manifold was no simple task.

This was just one of the challenges involved in the team had to overcome in this project.  Because the various buildings will not need the same amount of heating and cooling capacity at the same time, the loop field must have the correct valves and bypass to allow the correct flow and balancing to take place.  An incorrect flow could cause inefficiencies at the least and broken pumps and equipment at the worst.  By working together as a team and pulling from many years of experience, this team has been able to install a geothermal system that deserves some recognition.  While there are currently three buildings being supplied by the geothermal loop, it has the capacity and plans to host another seven buildings.  I hope you enjoy this information and please feel free to look through the pictures below from this unique project.


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