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Louisville to use geothermal energy to cool and heat terminal building


Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) is to use geothermal energy to cool its Jerry E Abramson Terminal in the summer and heat it in winter.

Operator, Louisville Regional Airport Authority, yesterday broke ground on the US’s largest airport geothermal project, which will use 648 vertical wells to access the natural energy source found 500ft below the airport site.

The $21.7 million geothermal project marks another major milestone of the SDF NEXT Program that will see a $400 million investment in improvements to the airfield and terminal in the coming years.

“This geothermal project reaffirms our commitment to providing a best-in-class experience and facility for passengers at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport,” said Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

“Not only will this innovative technology make system-wide improvements and increase efficiencies, but we are also setting an example in the industry to reduce carbon emissions and energy use.

“The geothermal project is another celebrated highlight of our SDF NEXT Program as we continue making vital improvements to our airfield and terminal.”

The new system will allow SDF’s HVAC system to increase the amount of outside air circulated through the terminal, contributing to a healthier environment for travellers and airport staff.

And, according to the airport authority, the geothermal system will cut SDF’s carbon emissions by 80% through the reduction of pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter associated with the burning of natural gas.

In addition, it uses 40% less energy than traditional systems and saves $400,000 each year in heating and cooling operating costs.

It will also require less maintenance and has an operating life that is two to three times longer than an average HVAC commercial system. Most of the current HVAC equipment will be removed, making room for future terminal enhancements.

Once the installation of the geothermal system is complete, the wells will then be used to support improvements to the airfield’s infrastructure. These nine acres will be transformed into additional terminal ramp space for use by the airport’s airline partners.

This new space will also prove crucial each year when hundreds of private and charter aircraft descend on Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, many of them parked for several days of festivities.

“This geothermal project puts Louisville on the cutting edge of clean and sustainable energy. It is good for the environment, for our people and for our businesses,” noted Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

“We are committed to leaving the world a better, cleaner place, and through this project, we are leading by example, as true champions of environmental sustainability.

“Thank you to the forward-thinking and -acting people at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, Dan Mann, his entire team and the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded $10.6 million to the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport as part of their Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Grant Program.

The VALE Program aims to build more sustainable airports and this grant will cover the cost of the geothermal wells and piping infrastructure connecting to the terminal building.


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