An Evanston firm spent last week drilling holes in the ground for a geothermal heating and cooling system that will dramatically reduce energy costs in a new housing development.

Damon Carter

Head driller Damon Carter handles the drill casing before starting a new hole.

Each of seven new townhomes planned for a site on the northeast corner of Ashland Avenue and Lake Street will have its own geothermal system that will run liquid through pipes extending 650 feet into the ground to take advantage of the constant underground temperature in the 50s to counteract the heat of summer and the cold of winter.

Adding pipe

Indie Energy Systems Company does the drilling work using rigs imported from Sweden and a crew that includes several workers trained through the Community Builders green collar workforce development program.

(At right: Head diriller Jeff Heiser and field operations director Dylan Pierce add another 10-foot pipe to the drill string.)

Later they’ll install the heat pump systems to circulate warm and cool air through the seven townhomes being built on the site by the Walter Talley Land Management Company.

Although the geothermal system costs more to install initially than conventional gas and electric heating and cooling systems, it is expected to reduce ongoing heating and cooling costs by up to 80 percent.

Walter Talley owner Thomas Engel says that the cost of the system will be built into the price of the new townhomes, but that if it were purchased separately a buyer could recover the cost in energy savings in about eight years.

Dropping the loop

Bill Johns and Antoine Bailey of Indie Energy drop a loop of tubing into a freshly-drilled 650-foot deep hole.

Indie Energy has already completed geothermal projects for the Church Street Village townhomes and the Boocoo Cultural Center in Evanston as well as residential and commercial projects in Highland Park and Chicago.

The new 3,300 square foot townhomes at Asland and Lake will have four-stories and feature private elevators in each unit.

The homes, built in a B-1 zone on the site of what had been a row of storefronts, also will include retail or office space on the first floor.

Related story

Live-work townhomes planned for Lake Street

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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