The Nitty-gritty of Going Green – Phase One

Published on December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007 (Las Vegas, Nevada) Today, Cashman Equipment Company announced they’ve begun drilling the wells for the geothermal heating and cooling system at their new corporate headquarters site in Henderson off St. Rose Parkway. Cashman broke ground on the property in July 2007 and publicly announced that the campus buildings will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold designated. As the facility progresses, Cashman intends to carefully monitor each stage of the process.

“Going green” are certainly the magical words these days” from LEED platinum-level presidential libraries to initiatives by the entire city of Chicago, everyone’s climbing aboard the fuel-efficient train to greener pastures. But what about the nitty-gritty, day-to-day details of constructing a LEED certified building? There are a number of complicated details to manage in order to attain the targeted certification level. Cashman Equipment, SH Architecture, and Burke & Associates (General Contractors) are ensuring that happens on a daily basis at Cashman’s new environmentally sustainable headquarters in Henderson, Nevada.

Cashman’s new buildings will feature a geothermal heating and cooling system worth four of their seven LEED energy efficiency points. (LEED designations are based on a point system, with a wide variety of water, energy, material, and innovation credits available.) “Overall, the headquarters will consume 45% less energy than a standard facility of the same size,” stated Eric Roberts, SH Architecture’s LEED Accredited Professional (AP). Right after Thanksgiving, construction crews began drilling the first of 300 wells, and they’ve been completing approximately four wells per day since then. The process of drilling down 400 feet involves the typical inspection of drill bits, the addition of “slip” to ease the drilling, and frequent depth checks. However, once 400 feet is hit, 810 feet of coiled pipe is put down the well. While most wells are filled with straight pipe, the coiled pipe is vital in the geothermal system in order to maximize contact with the earth. This enables greater energy (heat) transfer between the water in the pipe and the surrounding dirt. In the winter, the higher temperature of the earth will warm the water inside, providing a greater base temperature for the heater to work with. Similarly, in the summer, the lower temperature of the soil will cool the water, allowing energy to be saved on the cooling process.

With all the energy savings, the money question naturally comes to mind. How much does it really cost to go green? Obviously, this number varies from project to project, and few developers are willing to divulge exact dollar signs. Mike Pack, President of Cashman Equipment, commented, “The cost is not unpalatable.” In some aspects, Cashman will save money immediately. Since Burke & Associates is mandated to select vendors from within a 500-mile radius, there will be savings on the cost of fuel for transportation. While the initial cost of the geothermal heating and cooling can be significant, Cashman expects to see the system pay for itself over the course of the next ten years. “Building a facility that is LEED Gold certified is an involved, but important, process that we feel will benefit not only the company and employees, but the community and environment as well. The extra time and care this certification requires is well justified,” Pack stated. The nitty-gritty details will continue until completion in early 2009.