Education and Collection Facility (ECF) Ground Source Heat Pump Demonstration Project Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Education and Collection Facility (ECF) Ground Source Heat Pump Demonstration Project
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act – Geothermal Technologies Program: Ground Source Heat Pumps
Project Type / Topic 2 Topic Area 1: Technology Demonstration Projects
Project Description DMNS is a thriving, 500,000 ft2 museum that attracts 1.3 million visitors each year. In 2011, DMNS will begin construction of a 100,000 ft2 Education and Collection Facility (ECF) addition. In 2007, Denver voters passed a $30 million dollar bond initiative that will cover approximately 57% of the cost of the ECF. A fraction of these funds, along with pro-bono services committed from Denver Water and Geo-Energy Services, serve as the 50:50 match to this $2,611,832 request. The addition will be designed and constructed to perform to LEED Platinum specifications, and the Museum’s sustainability goals call for a carbon neutral energy consumption impact. Toward this end, DMNS proposes to design and install an innovative open-loop GSHP system that will utilize water from a local municipal recycled water system owned and operated by Denver Water as the source of thermal cooling/heat to the heat pumps. The advantages of the proposed system are significant, and include:

- Traditional ground-loop GSHP system capital installation costs can be reduced by at least 50%; - The large footprint typically required for a borehole field is eliminated; - Complex environmental and regulatory permitting required for traditional borehole or open-loop (pump and dump) systems is minimized; - Energy consumed by traditional fluid circulation is minimized; and - Relative efficiency of the system will typically be improved by minimizing the differential operating temperature range in the heat pumps.

State Colorado
Objectives - Design and implement an innovative ground source heat pump (GSHP) system for heating and cooling its new Education and Collection Facility (ECF) addition.

- Successfully design and install an open-loop GSHP system that utilizes water circulating within an underground municipal recycled (non-potable) water system as the heat sink/source. This innovation is expected to significantly reduce traditional GSHP installation costs while boosting the efficiency of the system. The result will be a commercial-scale (100 tons) GSHP heating/cooling system that will drastically reduce building energy consumption, require significantly less area and capital to install, and be economically implemented wherever access to a recycled water system is available.

Awardees (Company / Institution) Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Awardee Website
Partner 1 Denver Water
Partner 2 Architectural Energy Corporation
Partner 3 Geo-Energy Services
Partner 4 City of Denvery
Partner 5 County of Denver

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000116
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $2,611,832.00
Awardee Cost Share $2,611,845.00
Total Project Cost $5,223,677.00

Principal Investigator(s) David G. Noel, VP of Operations and Chief Technology Officer

Targets / Milestones - Assessing the technical and economic feasibility of the proposed innovative GSHP application.

- Developing a detailed engineering design and fully integrating it with the building's HVAC system application.
- Procuring and installing the proposed innovative GSHP system, and fully integrating it with the building’s HVAC system.
- Commissioning system, and readying it to gather, store, and analyze detailed performance data.
- Operating and maintaining the system for two to three years, and providing annual reporting on energy savings, performance, operations, and maintenance characteristics, and educational efforts to inform others on the energy, economic, and environmental benefits.
- Developing a national awareness campaign, as well as engineering standards and analysis models, to promote the implementation of GSHP systems in urban settings that have access to municipal recycled water systems.

Location of Project Denver, CO

Impacts Innovative demonstration of using municipal recycled wastewater as the heat exchange medium, which offers potential to improve efficiency, reduce loop costs and provide transferrability to other jurisdictions, since it can be replicated economically wherever access to a recycled water system is available. Will offer educational potential.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs