Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Planned Parenthood Progress Photos & Geothermal

March 4, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Planned Parenthood project on Ithaca’s West End has been moving along steadily, as LeChase Construction has installed Dow TUFF-R boards on the exterior, which boosts the overall R-value (resistance to heat flow) of the thermal envelope. Over the boards, pressure-treated wood strips have been fastened to hang the fiber-cement panels that make up the finish layer of most of the facade, which has begun installation along the northern west face. The sections of stone base along the bottom have also been completed, and once the weather gets warmer and more panels have been installed, the windows should follow-up right afterwards.


American Auger & Ditching Company is on site to drill the well field for the vertical loop geothermal system (ground source heat pump), which requires drilling a set of well loops anywhere from 50 to 400 feet deep, depending on system size, soil, heat pump specifications, climate, and other design factors. Heat pumps are a broad term, but it simply means moving heat from one place to another. A closed loop geothermal heat pump system works by circulating refrigerant (or anti-freeze) through the loops, which allows the refrigerant to exchange thermal energy with the ground due to thermal inertia (lag) of the soil at these depths.

The ground temperature is warmer than outside air in the winter, and cooler in the summer, since the thermal energy from the sun and precipitation lessens in effect the deeper (and denser) the soil mass in between, until there’s almost no variation. The refrigerant fluid gains thermal energy (heat) from the ground in the winter, but flowing in-reverse, loses heat in the ground during the summer. Once inside, the heat pump exchanges the energy with a heating system, and/or a cooling system, depending on the season, space, and type of system. Heat pump systems work in conjunction with other devices, typically forced-air HVAC systems (servicing air through return and supply ducts) and hydronic systems (servicing air by circulating water through radiators and baseboards).

In addition to this project, we’ll be seeing Purity Ice Cream installing a geothermal heat pump system as well. The latest updates and a new serving area render are on their Facebook Page.





Design by Chiang O’Brien Architects