Green technology heating up in Fauquier
Dr. Kevin McCarthy was one of several Piedmont Internal Medicine physicians who wanted geothermal energy to power their Warrenton-based practice. This week, they were honored for their green technology by Energized Research-Learning Institute of The Plains. Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Dr. William Simpson wasn't the first business owner in Fauquier County to install geothermal technology to power his building.
But the Piedmont Internal Medicine physician is a good example of a growing number of people who believe in reducing their carbon imprint while reducing their costs in the long run.
On Tuesday, the Energized Research-Learning Institute of The Plains recognized Piedmont for its efforts along with a handful of other businesses, organizations and individuals who have gone green.
In 2007, Simpson oversaw the construction of the 31,000 square-foot medical facility on Holiday Court in Warrenton. His goal in installing a geothermal system – which powers the building with heat and air conditioning as well heats the building's water – was three-fold.
On top of the fact that he wanted his building to be eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, Simpson also wanted to see a long-term return on his investment in the form of cheaper utility bills.
Simpson and his partners paid nearly two and half times what he would have paid had he installed a traditional heating and cooling system.
However, the utility bills for his 10,000-square feet office space are usually around $900 a month and typically don't fluctuate more than $150 from month to month.
With the amount of people going in and out of a fully-lit office space, Simpson sees that as a good thing, and expects to see a return on his investment in the next few years.
According to Simpson, geothermal customers typically start seeing savings by the eighth year.
"There is a lot of coming and going in the medical profession," Simpson said. "Every time the door opens, it's losing the [heat or air] right out the door."
ER-LI co-founder Michael Rainger commended folks like Simpson and the others using this type or other types of green practices.
A geothermal system like Simpson's uses the heated water and steam trapped inside the earth by collecting it in a series of wells and pumping it through a network of pipes into the building. The heating and cooling technology works because the Earth's core temperature stays at a fairly constant rate.
In the case of Simpson's office, the system lies 300 feet underneath the adjacent parking lot and eliminated the unsightly need for a HVAC system on top of the roof.
Rainger hopes that more folks like Simpson, who also runs an extensive recycling program out of his building, come forward to share what they are doing to make the world a greener place.
What started as a way for Rainger and his group to save schools money on their energy costs may one day morph into a full-fledged nonprofit, said Rainger.
He hopes to recognize 75 more entities by the end of the year after honoring 25 groups and individuals in two separate award ceremonies this year.
Recognized Tuesday along with Piedmont were Windy Hill Foundation, the Airlie Foundation, Jesse Straight Farming, Dominion Construction Group, Brookside Development, The Fauquier Bank, Fauquier Livestock Exchange, Fauquier and Kettle Run High Schools, Fauquiernow.com, Red Truck Bakery, Fauquier Times reporter Jay Pinsky, Fauquier Supervisor Chris Granger and Fauquier School Board member Brian Gorg.
The ceremony was held at Vint Hill Craft Winery, one of three wineries in Fauquier that are using geothermal technology, according to Rainger. The other two are Pearmund Cellars and Barrel Oak Winery.
"It's really been an evolving process and it's really been good news for Fauquier County," Rainger said of the new technology being used.
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