The thing about so much 'green' technology is that it actually saves you money. Is it oxymoronic to say that green energy requires less green than conventional technology?
Take geothermal heating, for example. Just 10 feet below the ground, the temperature is always 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, when your average maximum temperature is below that for six months of the year, you'd be grateful to be living 10 feet under.
But you don't have to. All you need is a geothermal heat pump.
Consider what a heat pump does: it extracts heat from one medium (usually the air) and pumps that into your living or work space. When it's an average January Portland night, and the temperature outside is 12.5°F, that heat pump is working awfully hard to keep you cozy.
On the other hand, if that heat pump is extracting heat from the ground, it's got a relatively easy job to do.
So it makes perfect sense to use this kind of technology in a place like Portland. And that's exactly what is happening with Portland Jetport's terminal expansion. Included in the $75 million dollar budget to build the 137,000 square foot terminal, is $3 million for a geothermal heating and cooling system, that is set to save the airport $8 million dollars over its projected lifespan.
That's right, heating and cooling. The same principal applies: when the average maximum July temperature sits at nearly 80 degrees, the temperature below the ground is still just 55. Extract the cold out of that, and your terminal's temperature will be suitably refreshing.
And the savings aren't just financial. If they had stuck with their current heating system, they'd be burning over 50,000 gallons of oil a year to keep the terminal warm. That's over a million pounds of CO2 not going into the atmosphere every year.
This is the first terminal of this size to utilize this technology, and it is being done with a lot of help from an FAA Voluntary Airport Low-Emissions (VALE) grant. So if it proves successful, you can expect to see this kind of thing becoming the norm at the nation's airports.
Here is a quick video showing how it works: