The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District’s Eau Galle Recreation and Dam is going green by using geothermal energy. The US Army Corps of Engineers celebrated 150 years this past August 2016. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District’s Eau Galle Recreation and Dam is going green by using geothermal energy. The US Army Corps of Engineers celebrated 150 years this past August 2016. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

Submitted by John Barker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

SPRING VALLEY, Wis. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District’s Eau Galle Recreation and Dam is going green by using geothermal energy. Eau Galle now has the first building in the St. Paul District to use a geothermal system for heating and cooling, and Corps officials hope to save thousands of dollars in energy costs.

A geothermal heat pump is sometimes defined as a central heating and cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source in the winter or a heat sink in the summer. The system takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems.

The four-ton unit was installed in the park’s office in June of 2016 and is already showing savings.

“We replaced a 1,000-gallon propane tank that we used to fill once a year,” Park Manager Brad LaBadie said. “Looking back at the past five years, it’s a savings of about $2,000 a year; but, I think future savings will even be greater, once we get updated winter numbers in.

“Besides saving money, another goal of this project was to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said. “The energy that we are collecting is heat stored in the rock from the sun.”

The geothermal system cost $34,000 with $20,000 of that coming from Corps of Engineers Headquarters, in Washington, D.C., as part of a sustainability program grant.

“In addition, the energy-efficient geothermal water furnace replaced our old, inefficient furnace and air conditioner, which will save us in electrical costs,” LaBadie said.

“We did an energy audit two years ago,” he continued. “It showed us the areas where we could improve our energy consumption and reduce our heat loss. Over the past two years, we have replaced every light in the park with an LED, and we installed spray foam and caulk in areas where heat could escape.”

The nearly 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the St. Paul District Fiscal Year 2016 $78 million budget, nearly 1,250 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $120 million to the national economy.

For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.