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Goldman Copeland Develops Innovative Geothermal Tool for NYC

April 4, 2018
The tool is especially helpful for the development of new building structures planning to make use of the available geothermal capacity.

Consulting engineering company Goldman Copeland (GOCO) developed an innovative web-based geothermal pre-screening tool for the City of New York’s Design & Development Corp. and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The technology analyzes the feasibility of geothermal heating and cooling for every lot in New York City. It provides users with a map of the entire city and assembles extensive data, including highlighting potential feasible sites.

The tool is especially helpful for the development of new building structures planning to make use of the available geothermal capacity. It is scheduled to go online for New York City later in 2018.

“The opportunity to conduct this complex engineering study on behalf of the city of New York was a welcome challenge …,” said Charles Copeland, president of GOCO.  "The NYC geology, dense population and high rise buildings limit its applicability in some boroughs but the methodology will allow engineers throughout New York State and the country to apply these innovative techniques to their own cities and communities.”

Developed by calculating geothermal ground capacity and potential energy consumption of 850,000 lots in all five boroughs in New York City — and 25 possible building configurations based on vintage, size and occupancy —  GOCO’s study evaluated three different types of geothermal systems: closed loop, standing column well and open loop. A point-grid method helped determine potential well quantity for all lots, and both hydrogeological and geological mapping data was used.

This comprehensive data resulted in a tool that also takes into consideration the long-term thermal impact on the underground geology, a factor that many previous installations have failed to recognize, resulting in excess subsurface temperatures diminishing cooling capabilities, causing systems to require supplementary cooling.

Based on the tool’s complexity and originality, GOCO has been named the winner of the American Council of Engineering Companies 2018 New York Engineering Excellence Award and will receive the prize at the Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in Washington on April 17.

Renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, are a major part of New York City’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions with 80% by 2050, based on the levels in 2005. While it was created specifically for New York City, the technology has the capacity to be applied to locations across the nation, helping other regions build a sustainable future.

It is not only intended for building owners, engineers and other professionals, but will also allow homeowners to assess a lot’s geothermal feasibility and potentially empower people to make smarter and greener energy decisions.