Historic Literary Home Gets Geothermal Upgrade
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, home of ‘Little Women’, is preparing for the installation of a new state of the art geothermal heating and cooling system. EnergySmart Alternatives, LLC (EnergySmart) of Medford, Mass., has been awarded the contract for the design and installation. The existing heating and cooling equipment is approaching the end of its life and requires major repairs.
“Historic buildings are ideally suited for geothermal heating and cooling where noise and aesthetics are a major concern,” said Jayme Ciaramitaro Co-Owner of EnergySmart. “Using the constant temperature of the earth, geothermal cooling does not need noisy outdoor air conditioning units while geothermal heating eliminates the use of fossil fuels. The new system will also be equipped with an easy to use real-time monitoring and control system that can be accessed through a smart phone.“
However, there are a number of site conditions that make this particular geothermal installation a challenge.
Archaeologists from the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston are currently conducting archaeological excavations at the back of the property in the areas to be disturbed as part of the geothermal installation. The idea is to preserve any artifacts that may exist below the surface before drilling is under way. Any significant findings would not preclude the geothermal system’s installation but could cause delays to the proposed fall 2017 work schedule.
There is also the challenge of the overall building energy efficiency. Because the Orchard House cannot be insulated or upgraded in any way that affects the aesthetics, the heating and cooling requirements are very high. In fact, the only way to control the humidity with the current system is to run the heat and air conditioning at the same time. Geothermal has been selected as it is the most efficient way to deliver heating and cooling to the building with equipment heating efficiencies exceeding 300 to 500 percent.
Geothermal has come into the media forefront recently with the introduction of Dandelion, a company spun off from X the innovation engine of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. But geothermal heating and cooling is not new.
EnergySmart has installed over 200 geothermal heating and cooling systems throughout Massachusetts since it was established in 2010. Melanie Head Co-Owner of EnergySmart said, “We are excited to be working at such an important historic property, right in our backyard. The Orchard House is another great example showing that geothermal is not just for new construction.”
Read more about geothermal heating and cooling.