SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. –The renovated Village Hall will use geothermal energy to power its heating and cooling system.

Renovations are scheduled to begin early next year and will take about two years, with an approximate cost of $6 million.

Architect Eric Holtermann explained in an email interview that the system works with loops of piping carrying water underground. With a constant temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the system cools the water running though the heat pumps.

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The installation is more expensive than an HVAC system due to extra piping and digging, Holtermann said. However, the system will provide substantial savings in energy costs.

Village Hall’s geothermal energy system construction will incorporate 15 wells under the building’s parking lot. Holtermann said that there are several benefits in utilizing this system.

“Once the system is up and running, South Orange will no longer need to purchase gas or oil for this building,” Holtermann said. “Over the long term, the Village will realize significant savings as the only operating costs for this system are electrical (for pumps, etc.), and those demands are limited.”

He said that environmentally, geothermal energy uses no fossil fuels, producing no hydrocarbons or pollution.

“The systems are simple and reliable, and are simpler in many ways than conventional HVAC systems,” Holtermann said. “Substantial cost savings, coupled with decreased pollution will continue to make these systems more popular, particularly in moderate and warm climates, where the largest percentage of cost is for cooling.”

Holtermann is with Holt Morgan Russell (HMR) Architects in Princeton. He has experience in historic renovations projects, including corporate, municipal, institutional and residential buildings. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Preservation New Jersey. For more information visit www.hmr-architects.com.  

The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.