Michigan's Largest Aquathermal Heating/Cooling System

SVSU boasts State's largest Aquathermal Heating/Cooling System

Aqua-thermal Spence Brothers SVSUAqua-Thermal Spence Brothers SVSU 2SVSU Aqua-Thermal Heating Cooling

The largest aqua-thermal heating and cooling system in Michigan is installed at Saginaw Valley State University.  More than 20 miles of coiled heat exchange units were placed in water retention ponds as part of SVSU’s new $28 million Health and Human Services Building.

installing geothermal lines - Spence Brothers“We built this system because it is both good for the environment and good for SVSU,” said Stephen Hocquard, assistant vice president for campus facilities.

“The aqua-thermal system costs somewhat more to install than a typical boiler and chiller operation but it will save substantial amounts of energy, summer and winter, year after year.  We should see an approximate 37 percent reduction in our costs for energy to heat and cool this new building.  From what I understand, after talking to experts in the industry, this will also be the largest aqua-thermal system ever installed in Michigan.”

The system works to heat and cool the building by transferring heat through an underground loop to the coils which are submerged in the ponds.  In the summer, the loop transfers heat away from the building, which is absorbed by the pond.  In the winter, the loop draws upon the latent warmth of the water to return heat. (Download the Illustration of SVSU's Aquathermal System).

For the project, The Dow Chemical Company donated 10,000 gallons of DOWFROST SR1, a propylene glycol product which is generally regarded as safe for use around people and wildlife.

“We saw this as an opportunity to use an existing chemistry in an energy-saving and environmentally sound application, and contribute to Saginaw Valley State University,” said Jim Batt, global business director for Dow Performance Fluids and Polyglycols and Surfactants. “We are very pleased to be participating in this project here in mid-Michigan.”

Geothermal Cooling Pond - Spence Brothers

The building’s engineering firm, Peter Basso Associates of Troy, worked with Spence Brothers in making the Aquathermal system a reality for the project.  The building was constructed to meet standards for Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  SVSU’s Pioneer Hall became the first LEED-certified building in the Great Lakes Bay Region when it achieved a silver rating in 2007; the Health and Human Services Building is also LEED Silver Certified.

Spence Brothers hosted demonstrations for the HIgher Education facility management representatives and members of the construction industry which took place near the retention pond and working construction site.

SVSU’s Health and Human Services building contains 13 labs, 12 classrooms and office space in its nearly 90,000 square feet. 

For more information on the Aquathermal system at Saginaw Valley State University, contact Brian Keeler, Project Manager at Spence Brothers.