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In hot water at the LEC

By Staff | Apr 5, 2010

If you get into trouble it’s sometimes referred to as being in ‘hot water.’ If it is serious enough, you could land in a cell at the new Faribault County Law Enforcement Center (LEC).

The new facility not only houses those in ‘hot water,’ it gets its heating source from hot water.

Geothermal, to be precise.

When the new jail/law enforcement center was being planned, then-commissioner Loren Lein promoted heating the new building with geothermal.

At a cost of $385,000, the other commissioners had to be convinced.

But, once they ran the numbers, the vote was to proceed. So far, that seems like it was a wise choice.

“The pay back on the geothermal system was listed at 7-10 years, but I think that was conservative,” says Faribault County Auditor/Treasurer John Thompson. “I think it will pay for itself in energy savings in more like 5-7 years.”

Geothermal systems use water pumped from underground wells to both heat and cool a building.

At the LEC, there is a field south of the building that houses 176 wells, each 100 feet deep.

The water enters the building underground from the south, and enters the large utility room.

From there it goes through one of eight heat pumps where heat is extracted from the 50 degree water. From there, it is circulated throughout the building.

There are pipes both in the ceilings, and in the floor for the first 10 feet around all the outside walls. Plus, the garages all have in-floor heat.

“It is working great,” says Chief Deputy Scott Adams. Adams should know, as he has taken on an additional chore of monitoring the system.

For more of this story, see this week’s Register.