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When considering economical solutions for your commercial building, geothermal heat pumps are becoming an increasingly popular option. According to NYSERDA, office buildings and schools are particularly well-suited for geothermal heat pumps due to their high occupancy, varying usage schedules, and widely varying heating and cooling requirements within individual zones.

Installing these types of systems, especially in urban areas such as New York City, can pose some unique challenges, but it is being done. Let’s take a look.  

What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?

A geothermal heat pump is an energy-efficient heating and cooling system. It uses the natural heat from underground to warm an area in winter and cool it in summer. The geothermal heat pump uses pipes that are buried underground, in which water or a mixture of antifreeze is circulated.

These pipes contain loops of fluid that absorb the geothermal energy from the ground and transfer it through a series of components in order to enrich your indoor environment with the desired temperature. This environmentally-friendly system not only provides cost savings to building owners due its excellent energy-efficiency but it also does not require any combustion fuel, therefore reducing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

How Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work?

Geothermal heat pumps are a special type of climate control system that uses the earth’s own thermal energy to maintain comfortable temperatures in buildings. Geothermal heat pumps pull heated or cooled air from soil deep under the earth’s surface and transfer it into a building through a set of insulated pipes connected to a geothermal heating system. 

Geothermal pumps are highly efficient, utilizing only a small amount of electrical energy to make them work, and can be installed horizontally, vertically, or in open-loops/closed-loops configurations depending on climate and application requirements. Geothermal technology has numerous benefits to the environment in terms of sustainability and energy savings, making them an excellent choice for commercial comfort solutions.

Geothermal Heat Pumps in New York City


Though geothermal energy is slowly making headway in the HVAC industry, it still has a ways to go in New York City. As we know, space is certainly a major commodity in NYC, and the lack of such generally poses an issue for those seeking to install geothermal heat pumps. Since space is so far and few between in NYC, drilling and inserting piping can be challenging. 

Furthermore, groundwork can also pose a challenge for geothermal energy. In discussing the first geothermal-powered hotel to be built in NYC (Bushwick to be exact), Construction Equipment Guide notes that the address of the building was once contaminated by oil due to previous lines of automotive work being stationed there (think gas stations and repair shops). Ensuring a healthy ground space usually entails intervention at the hands of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

Sustainability: A Look At Geothermal Systems in New York City

Geothermal heat pumps are, nevertheless, a sustainable option. Through the use of grounded heat sources, geothermal, in turn, eliminates the need for environmental pollutants. Former Director of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Climate and Sustainability Ben Furnas even noted that geothermal products “will play a key role in providing clean, affordable and comfortable homes and workplaces while accelerating our transition away from fossil fuels” (via Construction Equipment Guide).

Back in 2003, the Center for Architecture, located at 536 LaGuardia Place, installed the first geothermal mechanical system in a New York City building. The system draws groundwater from two wells that each go down 1,260 feet deep through the sidewalk.

Moreover, geothermal in New York City has even begun to appear in buildings in other market sectors. 6sqft notes that the waterfront office tower located at 555 Greenwich Street would be geothermally powered. In a press release, it was mentioned that the building will utilize “geothermal and radiant heating and cooling, full electrification to eliminate the on-site use of fossil fuels, and dedicated outside air system to provide 100 percent outside air to tenants.” 

In 2021, NYC property management company, LCOR, broke ground on a new development in Coney Island called 1515 Surf, which is said to include the largest geothermal project in New York City’s history.

Why They’re Worth It

The New York Energy Research and Development Authority says the geothermal systems are especially practical for commercial buildings and schools, which have varying heating and cooling needs and fluctuating capacities that are difficult to meet with traditional systems. Geothermal heat pumps offer energy-efficiency and value beyond the price of their installation. In addition to their affordability and low maintenance costs, geothermal systems create peaceful living environments by minimizing outdoor noise and controlling indoor humidity.

Geothermal systems are also incredibly safe compared to traditional heating sources due to the lack of combustion and high levels of reliability. With geothermal energy, you will get more bang for your buck with long term savings on your energy bills due to how geothermal heat pumps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the building while using less electricity than traditional heating sources. Therefore, geothermal heat pumps offer an excellent return on the investment, making them well worth the initial cost.

The Process of Installation

Installing geothermal heat pumps involves several complex steps and can be a laborious process. It begins with design and planning, then moves to excavation, unit installation, geothermal loop installation, connection of the geothermal system to the building’s existing HVAC system and finally testing for proper operation.

Experienced professionals recommend taking streamlined steps like breaking up tasks into phases to make sure each step is done correctly. Building owners should understand that geothermal heat pump installation calls for extensive work and it can be beneficial to hire a certified contractor to ensure the job is done properly from start to finish.

Maintenance Required for Upkeep 

geothermal heat pumps

Property owners who are looking for improved energy efficiency and long-term cost savings should consider geothermal heat pumps as an option for their building’s heating and cooling system. Not only is geothermal heating and cooling more environmentally friendly than other standard systems, but geothermal heat pumps require minimal maintenance to keep running efficiently. In addition, geothermal heat pumps can last upwards of two or three times longer than traditional HVAC systems, so overall upkeep costs are significantly reduced. Building owners who switch to geothermal can rest knowing that regular upkeep will be easy on the wallet.

Regular maintenance of geothermal systems is essential for safe and reliable operation throughout the year. It is important to check all the components of the geothermal system, including the condenser, evaporator coil, motor fan assembly, thermostat, reversing valve, compressor, and other related parts. The temperature control settings should also be checked to ensure that the unit is operating at maximum efficiency. In addition, air filters should be replaced or cleaned as needed to prevent dust buildup and reduce energy consumption.

How Much Money You Can Save in the Long Run

If you’re considering ways to save money in the long run, geothermal heat pumps may be an ideal option. By transferring heat between your building and the earth, geothermal heat pumps provide an efficient way of cooling and heating your space without relying on fossil fuels. Since geothermal energy is renewable and relatively stable in cost, it can help building owners save compared to conventional systems such as electric furnaces and air conditioners that are powered by nonrenewable sources like gas or oil. When installed with a specialized geothermal programmable thermostat, this system has the potential to drastically reduce how much you spend on energy costs over time.

An Overview of Geothermal Heat Pumps

In conclusion, geothermal heat pumps are a great investment because they operate cleanly, efficiently and with very little upkeep required. This means that you can maximize the return on your energy system investments and substantially reduce your utility bills over the long run. So yes, geothermal heat pumps are definitely worth it!

Not only does this save you money in the long run, but it is also beneficial for the environment since it is an eco-friendly technology with low carbon dioxide emissions. Installing these systems may require extra investment upfront, however it is well worth it given that this type of HVAC solution can last from anywhere between 20-25 years with minimal maintenance. With all of these benefits, there’s no denying why geothermal heat pumps will continue to be one of the most popular HVAC solutions available on the market today. 

Innovative Solutions with Donnelly Mechanical

For decades, Donnelly Mechanical has been the leading HVAC service provider for all commercial buildings in New York City. With our trained and experienced project teams, Donnelly holds all of our jobs and customers in high regard. Whether it is a geothermal heat pump installation or maintaining your commercial HVAC system, you can trust Donnelly to get the job done.

So if you’re considering investing in a system like this or looking for HVAC services in general, please visit our website and contact us right away!

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