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A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

  • 1.  A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-02-2017 10:16
    Edited by Erin Portman 05-02-2017 10:17
      |   view attached
    The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working on a project to assess the cost reduction potential for ground heat exchangers and would like input from installers. Please complete the attached survey by May 16 and use the submission form on the bottom of page 7 to submit the survey.

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    Erin Portman
    IGSHPA
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    Attachment(s)



  • 2.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-02-2017 15:50
    Just a clarification:

    To use the "submit survey" button to sent your survey result, you need download the PDF to your computer first, then fill the survey before you click the "submit survey" button.

    You can fill the PDF by opening the attachment in the original message from Erin, but the "submit survey" button seems not working until you download the PDF to your computer.

    Thanks for your inputs and support to this study.




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    Xiaobing Liu

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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  • 3.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-03-2017 09:13
    I appreciate the thought that reducing the cost of installing a GHX is an important part of making GSHP systems more cost-effective to build and help grow the industry. The big elephant in the room that no one seems to want to address, however, is not the cost of building the GHX, or the cost of the heat pump equipment, or the cost of the controls, etc....it's the fact that there is little attention to good design.

    I've done some interesting work with an electric utility that's tried promoting geo in their service area over the last several years. Their customer would go to an architectural / engineering team, ask for the feasibility of installing a system in their project and be told..."well, it's 24,000 square feet...divide by 400 to estimate that the load is about 60 tons...multiply by 200' and estimate they would need 12,000' of borehole...and guess what...it's pretty expensive, you might want to consider a less expensive conventional system.

    We've found that by actually developing a proper hourly energy model of the building, then using that energy model to make changes to the proposed design based on energy model results...probably doing half a dozen iterations of the energy model, that the size of the GHX could be reduced by 40-60% compared to the 400 / 200 foot rules of thumb...and that it would work more efficiently and avoid long term temperature degradation.

    It may very well be possible to find incremental cost savings by finding better methods to install a GHX, or squeeze the equipment supplier's margins...but with a proper design process I've seen first hand on quite a few projects that this will lead to more cost effective and more efficient systems.


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    Ed Lohrenz
    [JobTitle]
    GEOptimize, Inc.
    Winnipeg MB
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  • 4.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-04-2017 08:12
    I agree with you Ed.  Good design is key.  There are times, however, when I've been asked for the same back of the napkin pre-feasibility analysis.  Is the answer to use more real world rules of thumb that might allow someone to move to the feasibility phase including detailed energy modeling and associated fees to do so?  Would it be better to use 650/180 for an office building?  In the end every good design has these two key performance indicators of tonnage and feet of bore per ton.  I find that clients want to know the feasibility of a feasibility study.

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    Steven DiBerardine

    Strategic Energy Solutions, Inc.
    Berkley MI
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  • 5.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-05-2017 08:18
    An approach I've used that has produced pretty reasonable results is to use an energy model we've already built for a building that is similar in use and occupancy to the project you've been asked to look at. If it's in a different location, change the weather data appropriately and possibly adjust window areas etc. Re-run the energy model and. Adjust the loads to for the size of the building and then run GHX design software based on the geology of the area. It takes a little longer than adjusting the rules of thumb, but it gets you to a more realistic number. This assumes you have a bit of a library of hourly energy models to start with.

    From the work I've been doing with an electric utility I'm convinced the industry is missing probably 75% -85% of potential geo projects by using typical rules of thumb. Too many times I've talked to building owners who really wanted a geo system be convinced by someone using rule of thumb estimates as a "feasibility assessment" tell them it won't be cost effective...you're further ahead with a conventional boiler / chiller.


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    Ed Lohrenz
    [JobTitle]
    GEOptimize, Inc.
    Winnipeg MB
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  • 6.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-30-2017 14:53
    Ed and Steven:

    I agree with you that system design can significantly affect the cost of GSHP systems. More integrated, easy-to-use and reliable design tools are needed to make the feasibility study more feasible and the system design more cost effective.

    The backbone of GSHP systems is the ground heat exchanger (GHX). For a given building load profile, there could be many options for GHX designs. Among these options, which one is the most cost effective? The cost effectiveness is affected by many parameters, such as the depth, diameter and layout of the boreholes. While some existing software can tell you how these parameters affect the total length of boreholes, it can not tell how much it will affect the cost. Would drilling a small number of deep wells be cheaper than drilling many shallow wells? Would more thermally enhanced GHXs (e.g., double U-tubes, Co-axial, Twisters, high performance pipes, etc.) result in lower overall installed cost of GHXs?

    To answer the above questions, we need a better understanding on how the installed cost of GHXs are affected by these parameters? How the impacts are different at different locations (with different geological conditions, labor costs, and regulations)?

    The survey for GHX installation (posted on 5/2, see the 1st message of this discussion) is a part of the effort to answer these questions. However, so far, I only received two responses and one of them is from US. I do hope the members of this group can spent a few moment to provide any input you can to the survey, or forward it to anyone who may provide any input. If it is all possible, please send your inputs to me by next Tuesday (6/6).

    I understand the current low energy prices and the uncertainties of the EERE policies had depressed the GHP industry a lot. But, it may be a good time to re-examine the current practices to figure out ways for improving cost effectiveness, as the shale gas industry did. If you still believe GSHP is the most energy efficient technology for space conditioning and water heating, let's work together to make it more affordable and thus used more widely.

    Thank you very much!

     

    Xiaobing

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    Xiaobing Liu, Ph.D., LEED AP, CGD

    R&D Staff

    Building Technology Research and Integration Center

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory



    Tel: (865) 574-2593

    E-mail: Liux2@ornl.gov

    www.ornl.gov/buildings
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-31-2017 08:45

    We hear and read the costs of drilling the vertical loop well heat exchanger field are a barrier to the growth of the GSHP sector.  That may be, but it should not be an expectation for the drilling contractor to fall on his profitability sword so others may profitably succeed.

     

    The National Ground Water Association several years ago created a geothermal (GSHP) drilling cost calculator as a membership benefit to our member drilling contractors.  Of course, our members' adoption and use of the calculator is an option for them and some have and some have not.  We have heard some say it is too much information to enter into the calculator in order to understand one's drilling costs, and most importantly, one's drilling profitability.  However, we have heard from others who have said the calculator helped them much better understand their complete and true costs to drill loop wells and they could then responsibly adjust their drilling prices accordingly.  Some member drilling firms remain active in the GSHP market, while others have withdrawn, no longer finding loop well drilling efficiently fitting to their business operations.  Drilling firms can somewhat control their costs for labor, fuel, equipment, insurance, and the dozens of other items which enter into a complete picture of drilling costs.  But their ability to significantly modify those costs is limited.  A drilling contractor, like most businesses, has a choice to adjust price, and subsequently profitability, and ultimately, their ability to stay in business.

     

    Kevin B. McCray, CAE | CEO

    Advancing groundwater knowledge

    Providing | Protecting | Managing | Remediating

    and also serving the NGWA Foundation

    601 Dempsey Road | Westerville, Ohio 43081| USA

    800 551.7379 (614 898.7791) x 1503 | fax 614 898.7786

    www.NGWA.org | www.WellOwner.org

     

    Private Well Owner Hotline: 855-H2O-WELL (855 420.9355)

    http://www.thepowerofa.org/wp-content/themes/poa-responsive/images/logo.png

    This e-mail and any attachments are only for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, and exempt from disclosure under applicable law.

     






  • 8.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-01-2017 09:18
    Kevin McCray is right, reducing price without reducing cost is the quick way to bankruptcy. I keep hearing about the need to reduce the cost of every aspect of the geothermal HVAC system, with little regard for impact on customer satisfaction or operating cost.  Shorter loops, smaller pipe, and smaller ductwork reduces first cost but increases operating cost.  Taking on jobs that are priced below profitability and designs that require high operating costs do not lead to more jobs at higher profits,  The experience of dramatic price reductions in the solar PV arena initially came from developing a brand new technology and the cost reductions that come with higher production and experience.  Lately, however, the price reductions have come from profit.  Solar City has yet to make a dime in profit, yet has a huge level of sales.  Friends of mine have a very hard time making any profit from PV as a result of competition. I have  been selling geothermal systems for over 20 years, and one of the things I have learned is that the best systems are the ones where I maximize the efficiency of the system operation, which is the opposite of bringing down the cost.   What I have done to reduce cost is to reduce loads.  I make more money per job and my customers are happy with the result.

    I require the basement and attic be air sealed and better insulated.  Air sealing is the biggest factor to load reduction for any building, and basement air sealing is critical for success since becomes heavier as it gets colder, in winter cold outside air forces itself under the warm air bubble contained by the house and displaces it upward.  These are low cost building envelope improvements that will generally cost less than the savings on the reduced size of the geothermal equipment.  The energy savings and comfort from the air sealing will be attributed to the geothermal system by the occupants, while reducing the cost of the geothermal system.  This also increases customer satisfaction and dramatically reduces service calls.  The air sealing reduces the load peaks: and, as anyone who has done HVAC service in heating dominated areas knows, service calls escalate when the temperature drops.  Getting rid of the peaks reduces run times on high speed and eliminates the need for supplemental electric heat.
    I rarely get an emergency call, winter or summer, and never get a high bill complaint.  This is the only way I have found to reduce first cost while maintaining profitability.
    I did a deep energy retrofit (DER) to my centuries old farm house, installed the most efficient geothermal heat pump I could find, and installed enough vertical bore hole that I did not have to add antifreeze. (i live in NY State where antifreeze is the norm.)  The combination reduced the annual energy input for heating, cooling and hot water by 93%.
    The cost of the DER was just over $100,000.  The cost of the 3 ton geothermal system would retail for about $50,000.  It would have cost about $150,000 to have just done the geothermal system without the load reduction.  The house would have still been cold and drafty, and the energy savings would not be as significant (we used 600 gallons of oil and 5 cords of wood to heat prior to the DER).  Everyone in my family agrees that the improvement in comfort is the biggest benefit from the work.  The house has new windows and siding, improving curb appeal, and maintenance and repairs have been reduced to de minimis levels.


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    Lloyd Hamilton

    Verdae, LLC
    Rhinebeck NY
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  • 9.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-05-2017 10:17
    Lloyd says:
    "What I have done to reduce cost is to reduce loads.  I make more money per job and my customers are happy with the result.

    I require the basement and attic be air sealed and better insulated.  Air sealing is the biggest factor to load reduction for any building, and basement air sealing is critical for success since becomes heavier as it gets colder, in winter cold outside air forces itself under the warm air bubble contained by the house and displaces it upward.  These are low cost building envelope improvements that will generally cost less than the savings on the reduced size of the geothermal equipment.  The energy savings and comfort from the air sealing will be attributed to the geothermal system by the occupants, while reducing the cost of the geothermal system.  This also increases customer satisfaction and dramatically reduces service calls.  The air sealing reduces the load peaks: and, as anyone who has done HVAC service in heating dominated areas knows, service calls escalate when the temperature drops.  Getting rid of the peaks reduces run times on high speed and eliminates the need for supplemental electric heat."

    I agree wholeheartedly. The absolute key to reducing costs for geothermal is first reducing load. And load should always be reduced first at the place of largest heat loss or gain. Homeowners usually like to beef up attic insulation, but if you've got even R-30 up there, there's usually no sense to adding more. Air sealing is a great target for improvement, especially in new construction, but don't forget basements, which often have deceptively large losses in heating-dominated areas.

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    Jacquelyn Scherer
    Geo Designer
    The Janes Company
    Mukilteo, WA
    425-267-0202
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  • 10.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-01-2017 20:43

    Kevin

    We have been down this road before and we have agreed to disagree but I must respond to your post. You refer to something called a "vertical loop well." The geothermal heat pump industry has always referred to this part of the geothermal heat pump system as a vertical Ground Heat Exchanger (GHX), fully grouted and adhering to GHP industry setback standards.  The term "well" invites all kinds of local regulations that in fact creates barriers, time and money, to the installations of GHXs, not wells.  In Illinois, I can't tell you how many of your members are frustrated because vertical ground heat exchangers are referred to as "closed loop wells" which is a non sequitur and now they have to pay and wait for a permit to drill a GHX from one of 102 county health departments which had regulated domestic water wells and now regulate a deep post hole.  Many health department officials are ignorant of our technology and delays are prevalent.  In some cases the new regulations have disallowed the installation of a GHP.  In California, the notion that a vertical GHX is a water well is creating insurmountable barriers to GHP deployment.  Adding the word "well" to an industry term used for decades by the geothermal heat pump industry, Ground Heat Exchanger (GHX), adds costs (time and money) and potentially lowers the profits of drillers.

    I find it ironic that in 1997 the NGWA's first publication offering guidelines to your members about installing a GHX and funded by the geothermal heat pump industry was entitled, Guidelines for the Construction of Vertical Boreholes for Closed Loop Heat Pump Systems.  Your 4th iteration of this guideline no longer funded by the geothermal heat pump industry is now entitled Guidelines for the Construction of Loop Wells for Vertical Closed Loop Geothermal Heat Pump Systems.  I am perplexed as to how your industry changed the term of my industry from Vertical Boreholes to Loop Wells.

    If we truly want to make the companies in both our industries more profitable we should collectively work to lower the cost of business regulations which now include a growing number of local regulations covering something called a loop well.

    Respectfully

    Doug

     

    Douglas Dougherty

    President and CEO

    GEO, Geothermal Exchange Organization

    312 S. 4th Street, Suite 100

    Springfield, IL 62701

    Direct (217) 414-0341

    doug@geoexchange.org

    www.geoexchange.org

     






  • 11.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-02-2017 08:18

    We've come to believe labels have little to responsibly do with costs and prices when fully committed to doing two critical jobs right:  (1) protecting the groundwater resource, and (2) making sure the projects work to their best of their intended design. 

     

    Kevin B. McCray, CAE | CEO

    Advancing groundwater knowledge

    Providing | Protecting | Managing | Remediating

    and also serving the NGWA Foundation

    601 Dempsey Road | Westerville, Ohio 43081| USA

    800 551.7379 (614 898.7791) x 1503 | fax 614 898.7786

    www.NGWA.org | www.WellOwner.org

     

    Private Well Owner Hotline: 855-H2O-WELL (855 420.9355)

    http://www.thepowerofa.org/wp-content/themes/poa-responsive/images/logo.png

    This e-mail and any attachments are only for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, and exempt from disclosure under applicable law.

     






  • 12.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-05-2017 10:50

    To whom it may concern

     

    We have run into the same situation that referring to ground loop heat exchanger boreholes as wells has cost a lot of money. At Ball State University in 2009, we drilled the first phase of their closed loop geothermal program and the engineer had referred to the boreholes as "wells". The city of Muncie picked up on this right away and charged thousands of dollars for the project on a "per well" cost for the permitting. We have run into this only a few other occasions, many times due to the fact that we have cautioned the engineers of this problem before the specs were out or before the permits were obtained. We definitely recommend referring to these as boreholes. It is not just words it can cost a lot of money due to one word and depending upon the contract language, it may cost the drilling contractor.

     

    rick signature

    Rick Ortman

    President

    Ortman Drilling and Water Services

    765-438-2278

     

    _ortman logo

     






  • 13.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-02-2017 09:57

    This industry needs more oversight not less.  Having good codes and regulations would be an outstanding benefit to our industry.  The inconsistency of work practices is driving all of the high quality contractors out of this industry.  I certainly can't compete with people who use half as much grout in their loop wells as is necessary for proper heat transfer and environmental protection.  Good codes and educated officials is possible, for every CA and IL, there is a MN, OK and IA, states where the enforcement and permitting is logical and straightforward.

    Lowering first cost should not come at the expense of quality and reliability, two things that our industry has had great struggles with for far too long.  Worrying about if terminology would invite regulation should be the least of our concerns.  Using the opportunity to inform and educate is much better than trying to hide from the inevitable.  When you are putting borings into the earth to the depths that loop wells are installed, you will eventually be getting regulated.  We can't even get tax credits extended, how would we ever get a blanket exemption from loop well construction?




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    David Henrich

    Bergerson Caswell, Inc
    Maple Plain MN
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  • 14.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-02-2017 09:56

    I am going to agree with all three of you here!

     

    Kevin is absolutely correct that we cannot expect drillers to reduce their costs by cutting their overhead and profits.   Lloyd is correct that the building itself must be addressed to minimize the amount of outside heat exchanger required.  And Doug, with from legislative perspective, has correctly (in my opinion) addressed the cost of regulations based on incorrect information and classification of our industry by regulators and inspectors.

     

    At the Clemson Geothermal conference a couple weeks ago I made the statement in my presentation that we have all the pieces of the puzzle to reduce first costs, but we are not applying them as an industry.  For example, on the technology side, we have new ground heat exchanger products and grouts that can reduce first costs by providing better heat exchange capability with reduced bore hole length.  This effectively reduces drilling costs but does not reduce a driller's per/foot profitability- and hopefully results in more total drilling because more projects become affordable.  Are you skeptical of this concept?  Look at the projects that are being done in Europe with concentric heat exchangers, or look into the new Ford headquarters in Dearborn which will also employ a  concentric heat exchanger to serve what is probably the largest (Geothermal) project currently being installed in North America.

     

    On the building side, particularly in the commercial markets, we have software that can now size ground loops using hourly loads, but so often we don't use this information interactively with the consideration of building envelope improvements, to minimize the total heat exchanger required.  As Lloyd showed with his farmhouse example, a heat exchanger sized to condition a leaky building is not affordable and will not result in a comfortable system.  Ed Lohrenz has been preaching and teaching this concept for a long time.

     

    And yes, Doug, you are so right about how we name ourselves, what we call the holes we put in the ground, and the confusion it creates in the regulatory world- resulting in more costs to the systems we install, or at least try to sell.  How do we more effectively get the word out?

     

    There is no silver bullet- no solution to first costs that stands on its own.  The solution is a combination of using the best technology, employing the best designs and being fairly treated in codes, regulations, and incentive programs.   At Clemson I mentioned that we can only move forward with  Education, Communication and Participation.  That will fall heavily on IGSHPA, NGWA and GEO in concert with the State geothermal organizations and our respective memberships.  So easy to say, so challenging to do!

     



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    John Turley

    Island Synergy Group, LLC
    Hilton Head SC
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  • 15.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 05-31-2017 10:53
    A problem is that many designers try and standardize the borehole design and configuration in an effort to simplify things for themselves, their AutoCAD people and the contractors building the system. Unfortunately, to optimize the design and create a design that is both cost effective to build and operates efficiently without being impacted by long term temperature degradation. Some of the factors I've seen that affect the cost of the GHX include:
    • Load profile: if the project energy loads are fairly heating or cooling dominant, the amount of drilling can be reduced by spacing boreholes farther apart. I've compared some loads with 20' and 25' spacing...often end up with the same land area required with either option, but 36% fewer boreholes with greater spacing. Anything that can be done to balance the loads (DHW loads, heating a swimming pool, snow melt if the loads are cooling dominant, or any additional cooling load, process cooling, etc. could improve the balance) - this is why working with the building loads...architect, mechanical system designer is so important.
    • If the loads have high peaks of fairly short duration, there is greater reduction in total borehole when borehole thermal resistance can be decreases (larger pipe, higher grout conductivity, double U-tube, whatever)
    • What are GHX contractors in the area capable of building cost effectively with the equipment and manpower they have available. If drillers in the area have equipment that can drill a maximum of 300', don't design a borehole field that requires 400' boreholes.
    • Geology: If drilling becomes difficult and slow at 250' don't design a borehole field that requires 350 boreholes. If there is overburden that requires casing to hold the borehole open to 50', design a borehole field that is as deep as possible given the geology and contractor resources in the region, as setting casing takes time and costs money. Better to drill fewer deeper boreholes than a bunch of shallow boreholes in that situation if possible
    • GHX options: Generally, vertical GHX's are more costly to build that horizontal, horizontal directionally drilled, or surface water heat exchangers. These options are ignored by many designers. For example, school yards are often large enough to build the entire GHX horizontally, but many times this option is ignored and a vertical GHX is installed. 

    These factors all have an impact on the cost of building the GHX and system. The specific design details of the GHX and borehole field have a direct impact on the size and cost of the system...BUT...the biggest impact on the cost of the GHX can be realized only when the building energy model is used to optimize the architectural and mechanical design of the building.

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    Ed Lohrenz
    [JobTitle]
    GEOptimize, Inc.
    Winnipeg MB
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  • 16.  RE: A Survey for Ground Heat Exchanger Installation

    Posted 06-02-2017 09:09
    Ed:

    Thanks for your insights! I see there is a need to integrate the GHX design software with detailed cost model of GHXs. This integration will help value engineering the design of GHXs.

    Xiaobing

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    Xiaobing Liu

    Oak Ridge TN
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