Officials from Middlesex Community College, along with U.S. Rep. John Tierney, flipped the switch on a new ground source heat pump at the Trustees' House on the college's Bedford campus Tuesday.
The pump is a project completed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management, and will replace the current cooling system at the school's Trustee's House, a three story, 9,800 square foot building.
The project, the cost of which was $308,189, was funded in part by a federal grant the college received with the assistance of Tierney.
"This is a really growing area, geothermal energy, and since 1960 it has been advancing," Tierney said. "The United States is a leader in [geothermal energy] which means not only can we save more in energy and in cost, but we can also develop people that will be in the forefront of that industry."
The ground source heat pump will use heat from underground to provide heat and cooling more efficiently than standard heating technology.
The module will have an above ground dashboard which will allow students taking environmental science courses at the college to monitor how the device works, including how much energy it saves.
"I hope that they are going to be the leaders in energy technology in Massachusetts," Tierney said. "You've got industry, academia and government all playing their appropriate role, and the students here are going to benefit from that in the learning experience as well as the opportunity for a good job that pays well and that is cutting edge."
Middlesex Community College President Carole Cowan said there are multiple benefits to installing the pump, starting with the impact it will have on coursework for environmental science.
"We were searching for alternative energy sources for the different buildings on campus to really experiment with what might be helpful to us to save money, to reduce our carbon footprint and also to tie into the curriculum," Cowan said.
Exploring sources of alternative energy has become increasingly important for state institutions, according to Cowan.
"Alternative energy is almost a responsibility when you run an institution because of the amount of use the buildings get, the amount of heat that's required and the amount of cooling that's required," Cowan said. "It's really a responsibility of the institutions of the state and around the country to look for these resources first."
Middlesex also received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) amounting to $75, 514 to help offset the cost for the ground source heat pump.
The grant comes as part of the Leading By Example program, which was established by a 2007 executive order signed by Gov. Deval Patrick. aimed at setting goals for state institutions to improve energy efficiencies as well as reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses.
The grant for Middlesex Community College comes as part of a Leading by Example grant totalling more than $700,000 for three Massachusetts community colleges.
Director of the Leading By Example program at DOER, Eric Friedman, said it is important to create clean energy initiatives at the level of institutions of higher education.
"They have the brain trust there, and they also have a much broader sense of the future," Friedman said.
Friedman said institutions of higher education are the perfect place for clean energy initiatives because of the culture at most universities that focuses on looking to the future.
"Colleges and universities have this understanding that what we do now is not just about here and now, or not just about what happens next year, but is really for the long term future," Friedman said. "Colleges really understand that taking the long view is really in their DNA."