OSU’s innovation in geothermal energy protects the environment and provides long-term cost savings for businesses.
One example of a geothermal system is at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, which uses geothermal heating and cooling in its quarantine building, keeping the animals comfortable and lowering energy costs. The 10,000-square-foot quarantine building is separate from the main public exhibit building and houses marine animals until exhibit space is ready for them.
The facility in Jenks opened in 2003 on the banks of the Arkansas River, and the venture has sparked economic growth for Tulsa and Jenks.
Now, along with its ability to enlighten the public about the important role aquatic life plays, the Oklahoma Aquarium will also be able to highlight its environmentally sound ground-source system. In 2012, the aquarium selected a geo-exchange system to replace its aging heating and air systems equipment.
The Oklahoma Aquarium is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational facility operating under a management agreement with the Oklahoma Aquarium Foundation and the Jenks Aquarium Authority. It receives nearly a half million visitors a year, including thousands of school children.
The moist salt-air environment in the facility’s eight exhibit galleries took its toll on the heating and air system. Jenks officials, who had budgeted $110,000 to repair and update the system, found a federal grant was available for most of the cost of the energy-efficient system.
Jenks City Manager Mike Tinker says the update to the quarantine area will show what the savings could be for the whole aquarium.
The quarantine area is expected to see a 40 percent to 50 percent savings in electricity and natural gas usage, says City Engineer Robert Carr. Energy costs previously ran about $75,000 annually for the quarantine building, he says. Carr also expects the new geothermal system, which is outdoors, will last longer away from the indoor salt air.
Geo Enterprises Inc., a member of the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, designed the ground exchange loop system and oversaw its installation. CEO Phil Schoen was on site for much of the installation.
IGSHPA is an outreach center at Oklahoma State University that supports the university’s land-grant mission by promoting advanced technology and services worldwide.