McMaster University announced it will heat its new campus greenhouse with emissions-free geothermal energy, and is exploring multiple locations on campus for future geothermal sites.

The new greenhouse will be the first building on campus to use a sustainable geothermal system to fully heat and cool the building. The greenhouse is under construction in front of the Life Sciences Building.

It will be the second geothermal system on campus, adding to the one that primarily supports clean energy research in the Gerald Hatch Centre.

“Geothermal systems are a clean energy solution that are full of potential to support a path to net zero carbon emissions on campus,” said Dave Cano, director of sustainability.

“There are no silver bullets to achieving net zero carbon emissions on campus. We will need a combination of strategies to reduce emissions, including retrofitting our facilities, installing electric boilers, reducing cogeneration use, and exploring new technologies.”

Geothermal systems use thermal energy naturally found deep underground, where it remains a stable 5 degrees Celsius, providing buildings with heat in the winter and cool air in warmer months. McMaster’s Net Zero Carbon Roadmap includes exploring geothermal technology on campus.

“To better understand if it is feasible to deploy additional geothermal systems across campus, we are  conducting borehole testing in six locations,” said Alvin Baldovino, director of engineering operations.

“We have already made so much progress cutting emissions in the last three years. This will help us determine if geothermal is the next right step towards net zero carbon emissions on campus.”

The Faculty of Science collaborated with a design and construction team to align with McMaster’s Sustainability Strategy on the clean energy component of the greenhouse project.

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The existing greenhouse next to Hamilton Hall will be retired when the new one is completed. McMaster anticipates that the new greenhouse will be ready in the fall of 2023, welcoming researchers, faculty, students, staff and a variety of plants to a new place to learn and grow.

Featured image: McMaster is exploring the use of geothermal technology on campus on the new greenhouse, under construction outside the Life Sciences Building. (McMaster University)

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