Nation’s Largest Project of Its Kind Goes Live

True to our tradition of innovation, Ball State continues to be revolutionary and responsible. We are creating the nation’s largest ground-source, closed-loop district geothermal energy system,  benefiting both the economy and the environment.

Water heated by the Earth began flowing through a new geothermal district heating and cooling system in spring 2012. This portion of the geothermal conversion allows Ball State to reduce its reliance on four aging coal-fired boilers. The project provides several hundred contractors and suppliers employment and an opportunity for an estimated 2,300 direct and indirect jobs, according to a study conducted by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

When the system is fully operational, the university will be able to shut down the boilers, thereby cutting the campus carbon footprint nearly in half. The system will heat and cool 47 buildings and result in $2 million in annual savings.

Geothermal campus map

View a graphic illustration of our geothermal piping map.

To create the system, Ball State is drilling approximately 3,600 boreholes in borehole fields around campus, but you won’t notice them after construction is complete. During Phase 1, 1,800 boreholes were drilled. An additional 1,800 will be drilled throughout Phase 2. Each borehole will be covered and the area restored to its previous use, retaining campus beauty. Learn more about how geothermal energy works.

The system’s implementation demonstrates that geothermal energy coupled with ground source heat pump technology can be used on a large-scale district distribution system. Since ground-source geothermal energy can be used in every state, the environmental and economic implications have a national reach.

The geothermal project is part of Ball State’s long-standing commitment to sustainability. In a fitting tribute, the geothermal project will be dedicated in conjunction with the Greening of the Campus IX: Building Pedagogy. This interdisciplinary conference allows people representing diverse areas in university communities to share information on environmental issues.