Mother Earth Can Be the Source of Heating, Cooling and Conservation Efforts

In the Village of Homewood, public works director John Schaefer has worked to push forward conservation efforts. The new geothermal heating and cooling system in the village's Public Safety Building is one-of-a-kind in the South suburbs.

Permission granted.

John Schaefer can talk the talk.

He walks the walk at the head of the Conservation 101 classroom march.

Schaefer, director of public works in the Village of Homewood, has helped implement plans to conserve energy and natural resources during his tenure while saving residents money and helping the village stick within a budget fixed by tough economic times.

His work runs the gamut from the recent installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system in Homewood’s Public Safety Building to the village’s participation in cooperative ventures such as the sales of rainwater catching barrels and a 50-50 tree purchase program.

The new geothermal heating and cooling system in the police and fire department building at 17950 Dixie Highway was installed at a cost of $1.5 million, Schaefer said. Construction started in November. The project was completed in mid-February.

Schaefer said the new heating/cooling system—one-of-a-kind in the South suburbs—is expected to pay for itself in 10 years through savings gained from doing away with the purchase of natural gas and cutting back on the use of electricity as well reducing maintenance costs.

“It’s very new technology out this way, where we’re basically using the warmth and cooling of the earth to heat and cool the police and fire departments,” Schaefer said. “It’s an energy-efficient program. It helps improve the carbon footprint, per se—because we’re not using natural gas—and our energy as far as electric use is going to go down.”

Schaefer said contractors drilled 27 wells in the rear parking lot of the village hall complex, each one about 400 to 425 feet deep. He said water is collected in cylindrical tubes and circulated throughout the wells before it is pumped into the police and fire building at about 52 degrees.

Then, heating and cooling measures are applied to raise the temperature of the water and ultimately regulate the temperature in the building.

Schaefer is proud to promote the Village of Homewood’s annual cost-sharing initiative with residents in planting trees, too. He said the village purchases trees and splits the cost with residents 50-50 in a win-win scenario: Trees provide beauty, shade and raise property values in the village.

And, then, there is the matter of conserving water.

Schaefer said village officials offer rainwater collection barrels for purchase in conjunction with events like Homewood Days. He said the collection process can be one of the best ways for homeowners to cut costs on their water bills and strive toward becoming more eco-friendly, too.

“The water that is collected is very good for plants—it’s high in nitrogen,” Schaefer said. “And you’ll save money on your water bill.”





Bob April 03, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Yoka, you should really do a little reading on these "green" technologies before you support them. They often are just poor choices to achieve a safe environmental goal. I managed some solar panel installation projects about 10 years ago for Chicago Public schools, and after spending a fortune on them the building engineers disconnected them because they cost more to maintain than they were saving in electricity costs. When the REAL first capital costs are considered, solar panels in the Midwest are the most overpriced, expensive and energy negative systems there are, except, of course, for windmills, ethanol, and battery operated cars. Pollution? Electric car batteries create an incredible amount of toxic waste and battery disposal will create a problem far worse than burning natural gas. I've designed silicon plants for chips and solar panels, and creating them is incredibly energy intensive process and most solar panels in our area will probably take more energy than they deliver. We have abundant supplies of natural gas produced in the US, at least a hundred years of supply for his country in known reserves. Expansion of gas energy in producing power and fueling vehicles is the most sound energy policy. It's actually get cheaper as time goes by. It's only downside is that Obama's campaign contributors need government handouts to keep their failed "green" boondoggles going!
Genvieve LaChappele April 04, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Bob I'm predicting that you are demonized soon for your non emotional fact based comments.
Bob April 04, 2012 at 03:58 AM
....except how to waste money for a politician's pet projects, get taxpayer money to political cronies for their political support (and bribes), finding ways to avoid academic and fiscal responsiblity for screwing things up!
Ryan Fitzpatrick April 04, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Bob, I'd be more than happy to discuss HVAC technology with you in hopes to learn more about it. Please feel free to contact me at ryan.fitzpatrick@patch.com or call at 708.657.7048.
Bob April 04, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Ryan, I sent you an e-mail with my cell number in it. Feel free to call me with any questions you may have. To be honest, I'm more than a little disappointed that the author of this piece is apparenlty not interested in learning more about this, especially considering this is the second "PR" piece he's written for Mr Shafer.


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