Geothermal Expert Weighs In (Part 2)

March 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

I had the opportunity to interview Matt Miller. Mr. Miller is the Lead Design Engineer at GBL Geothermal, a Reno, NV based turn-key Geothermal Heat Pump provider.  Matt is an IGSHPA certified designer and a LEED Accredited Professional. GBL Geothermal is a company that is leading the way in clean energy technology.

This is part two of two.

Michael: What is your recommendation for a home or business owner who wants a net zero building? How would you combine your system with other systems and what other systems would that be? (For the Reno area)

Mr. Miller: The idea of a net zero building is one that we come across a lot, and it brings up a few interesting points.  A building that uses no more energy than it produces and emits a net-zero amount of greenhouse gasses is very difficult and often expensive to build, but we can get close to that goal for a fraction of the cost of actually hitting the zero mark.  Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water heating make up about 75% of a home’s energy use, so you want to make sure that you get that part right.  There is a lot that can be done to the shell of a building so that that 75% is as small of a number as possible.   People do not have unlimited funds right now no matter how important being green is to them.  Sometimes other options make sense, but that usually depends more on the customer than the other technologies.  We look at the Return On Investment (ROI) to find where first dollars are best spent.   We can set up a hierarchy of options using this method, and often times a GHP system along with some insulation is glaringly the best option.

Michael: Will this be different for the California area?

Mr. Miller: The net zero numbers look similar for Northern California, but they change once we get to Southern California.  Solar options start to make more sense down there, including Southern Nevada and Arizona.  This is because the dominant load is drastically towards Air Conditioning, and the peak of that load matches the peak solar output, so in this case they are a good direct match.  Again, the ROI changes for every building, so it is important to have your energy professional crunch the numbers to see what the best option is.

Michael: In your experience, what is the best program for green building certification? (Ex. LEED, GreenStar, EnergyStar)

Mr. Miller: I have been impressed with the LEED building program; however, in general I believe that supply-side, market-driven solutions are the most robust mechanisms to steer climate change in the right direction.  Geothermal Heat Pumps fall on the Energy Efficiency side of the energy equation, and because they do not generate renewable energy like solar or wind, we cannot take credit for the saved electricity, saved greenhouse gas generation, etc.  There needs to be national standards for accounting for Energy Efficiency similar to the green tag program.  It is more difficult to take account for a kilowatt saved then generated, but we think that there is a way to meter these savings where they will not hold back the commercialization of the technology.

Michael: Some states are certifying buildings using non-profit organizations and some are going with for-profit organizations. Which one would you recommend and why?

Mr. Miller: We recommend putting a price on carbon and letting the markets and industry take care of the rest.  Subsidies have been very helpful up to this point, but if we were able to take credit for our green tags and sell them on a carbon market, this would be much more valuable then state driven certifications.  This would allow us to bury a ground heat exchanger that will outlast the life of the house or building that sits on top of it, and take credit for all of those free kilowatts that we pull out of the dirt.  When you add all of those up for 50-100 years, which is a very valuable micro utility.

GBL Geothermal is leading the way to improve the world for future generations by assisting businesses and consumers to achieve greater social and environmental responsibility.

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Geothermal Expert Weighs In Question and Answer

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Michael Lemons

I will secure sustainability for your business with strategic CSR (corporate social responsibility) by making social impact integral to the unique value proposition of the company.

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