A Push for Geothermal Heat

A $24.7 million bond for the expansion and renovation of the 87-year-old school building

Plans for the Bridgehampton School’s expansion were presented at a meeting of the school board last week. The project, which was approved by district voters in December, involves a $24.7 million bond for the expansion and renovation of the 87-year-old school building. 

The project’s architect, John A. Grillo of Port Jefferson, in discussing the status of a plan for a geothermal heating and cooling system, explained the methodology. Geothermal wells would be dug 350 feet deep on school property. Vertical geothermal loops would then be inserted into the ground and later filled with an antifreeze solution. While construction on top of the wells is not recommended, covering the area with a playing field or a parking lot is perfectly safe, he said. 

Geothermal is considered a viable alternative energy source that is clean and sustainable. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface, and down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock. 

According to the United States Department of Energy’s website, energy.gov, the cost of a geothermal heating and cooling system “pays for itself after 2 to 10 years.” 

Although the initial outlay would be greater than that for a conventional system, the school would receive a New York State rebate for 10 percent of its total cost. In addition, there would be long-term cost benefits since geothermal energy is more efficient than that derived from fossil fuels. 

Julie Burmeister, a mentor to the school’s robotics team, voiced her support for the proposal, adding that she thought “this would be an easy vote within the community.”

Other expansion plans presented last week included a 210-seat auditorium, quiet rooms, a fitness center, a music suite, and an outdoor seating area. The current gymnasium would be expanded to hold 432 seats, increasing its capacity by 136. The boys and girls locker rooms would also be enlarged, and each would hold 60 lockers. 

Mr. Grillo said he looked forward to work on the 35,440-square-foot addition and other renovations to be approved by November. “I hope we’re breaking ground by March 2018,” he said, “and cutting the ribbon by September 2019.”