Geothermal Provides Energy for Miami Marquee Project

Geothermal systems are ideal for transferring heat to and from the earth’s resources to provide economical cooling / heating solutions to buildings. The U.S. Department of Energy calls geothermal a “vital, clean energy resource [that] supplies renewable power around the clock and emits little or no greenhouse gases—all while requiring a small environmental footprint to develop.”

Geothermal specialist Scott Czubkowski, PE, LEED AP, has designed and implemented geothermal solutions as small as 90 tons and as massive as 3,200 tons. He worked with the $2.8-million geothermal project at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which in 2010-11 was the largest geothermal project in Florida.

Now a senior project engineer with McKim & Creed, Scott was recently tapped to oversee the geothermal wells for a 27-story marquee project that will redefine Miami’s energy landscape as much as it does the city skyline.

The geothermal system being designed for this multi-use project will pull cool water from an aquifer, absorb heat from the HVAC system, and return that heat to the same aquifer. This is considered a closed loop system. The confidential project—which is privately funded and delivered through design-build—will have capacity to remove heat generated from 1,200 tons of air conditioning that will serve several big box stores, restaurants and a residence tower.

In South Florida, real estate is at a premium, municipal water costs are high and “no one wants to look at mechanical equipment,” according to Scott. Therefore, the three supply wells will be installed near the “upstream” side of the development line. Cool water will be pumped to two heat exchangers located at the base of the residence tower. The four discharge wells will be on the “downstream” side of the aquifer, out of sight underneath large planters.

The developer is seeking solutions to optimize its carbon footprint and energy investment while minimizing ongoing maintenance costs. “Geothermal is the logical thing to do if you want to go green,” explained Scott. “It’s economical to install and maintain, and provides tremendous energy and water savings. It is a proven strategy that promotes clean, efficient, sustainable energy.”