Here at Irvine Nature Center part of our mission is to live green and model sustainable stewardship of our resources, and we like to use our facility and surrounding 116 acres as a tangible example of these practices for our visitors every day. In addition to the ubiquitous recycling bins, composting buckets, waterless urinals, and pourous parking pavement, we decided to install geothermal heating and cooling when building our new, 17,000 square foot facility here in Owings Mills.
The reasons I bring this up in today’s post are both professional and personal. Not only do we use geothermal HVAC here at Irvine, but I also just recently completed a similar system at my home (see picture above). In case you are not familiar with the concept, geothermal uses the Earth’s natural, underground temperature of approximately 58 degrees to heat or cool your home like a heat pump would. The geothermal system, however, is enormously more efficient, using only a fraction of the electricity and no fossil fuels.
While the initial cost of a geothermal system is still high, the long term benefits are significant. In addition to the reduction of energy used, there are both federal and state tax benefits or grants available to individuals. Up to one third of the total cost can be deducted from your federal taxes, as I understand it, in adddition to the potential for a $3000 grant from the State of Maryland – two things which make the choice to go green with geothermal that much more attractive!
Employing a geothermal system in concert solar planels, compact flourescent or LED lighting, low flow toilets, sinks, and showers, and thoughtful recycling can reduce a family’s environmental impact significantly while also saving money – it is simply a win-win situation for both you and our planet.
I hope you will come by and visit us at Irvine Nature Center to take a look at how we are modeling green living. If you have any questions about the green features to our facility or about my personal experience with trying to make greener choices, do not hesiate to let me know.