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SCMS, GMS Getting Heating, Cooling Fix

Scott County Middle School and Georgetown Middle School are both receiving an upgrade in their heating and cooling, which will save the schools thousands of dollars.

The schools will be getting a geothermal heating system, which is a method of heating and cooling a building.

Scott County High School and a few other schools in the county already have the new system, which takes advantage of the natural supported temperature stored in the earth.

Mike Luscher, Scott County schools' director of facilities, says geothermal heating is a great addition to any school.

"It's going to save the schools thousands of dollars a year and it's environmentally friendly. We don't have to use any coal or oil and it takes a reduced use of electricity," Luscher said.

Geothermal heating has two types of systems; closed loop, which is what the schools are using and open loop. Closed loops are loops of pipe buried six feet deep or greater in the ground. The pipes are placed in the trenches, usually 200 feet below ground level.

The first school district with geothermal heating was put in place was Garrard County, in the late 1980s.

In 1994, SCHS was built and insulated with geothermal heating. It was the largest closed loop geothermal heating in the nation at the time.

"The high school has a closed loop, where the pipes are not discharging water, staying in the loop. Water goes down the loop and comes back up," Luscher said.

Including geothermal heating to the schools is a smart way to save money, since hardly any energy is needed for the new system.

"Geothermal is $3 per square foot extra, but within the years, the costs will wash between the systems, because of high energy and maintenance the older system brings," Luscher said.

When built, SCHS had geothermal units placed in the ceiling, but since the middle schools are older, they will be placed somewhere else. Units will be placed in classrooms, cabinet units or in mezzanines, like at Anne Mason Elementary or Royal Spring Middle.

"We will put the units wherever it's suitable for them to be placed," he said.

Construction on the older buildings will depend on where these units are placed, because of possible renovation. This determines how far demolition is done.

The costs can be high for intensive demolition, because crews might have to take out a lot of structures and replace them, which can be excessive in pricing.

"This all depends on the condition of the building and how far you go with it," he said.

Luscher mentioned that several people from surrounding states have been very interested in geothermal, as Kentucky is one of the leaders in the nation for geothermal heating.

"Kentucky schools are in the far front of getting geothermal, so much that we've had people from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee coming to look at our work," he said.

Gerald Jones, Project Superintendent of Alliance Corporation, a construction company from Glasgow, started in-stalling well units at the beginning of the month for the SCMS gym.

"There are 42 well units outside of the gym, which look to be finished today, as we're on the last row," Jones said.

GMS geothermal construction will start in the beginning of April, Luscher says.

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