City of Orland Park and Cook County
work together to support green building and to create and keep local jobs
February 21, 2011
The City of Orland Park granted a rapidly growing general contractor, Madison Construction, an Energy Efficiency grant to entice them to keep their headquarters in Orland Park. Due to economic factors Madison Construction was contemplating relocating their headquarters outside of Cook County. However, with the help of theVillage of Orland Park and Cook County, Madison Construction was able to receive a grant for $150,000 to implement a geothermal heat pump HVAC system at their new location. County President Toni Preckwinkle, Commissioner Liz Gorman and Mayor Dan McLaughlin worked together to enable Madison Construction to keep over 70 individuals working in the Orland Park area.
This geothermal installation will allow Madison Construction to reduce their energy costs for heating and cooling by up to 60%. Madison Construction has also performed geothermal installations on a variety of other projects, including PCC Austin Health Care, the Lawndale Christian Health Center project on Ogden Avenue, and the Little Red School House Nature Center for the Cook County Forest Preserve. Geothermal installations will be forthcoming on a variety of new projects that Madison Construction will be building, including the Aunt Martha’s Health Center in Joliet, the Aunt Martha’s Health Center in Chicago Heights, and the Harold Washington Apartments in Chicago.
Geothermal mechanical systems work by harnessing the capacity of the earth to both heat and cool a building. Consisting of two main parts; geothermal systems are very simple to implement, cheap to operate and easy to maintain. The first part is a field of plastic pipe inserted into holes drilled a few hundred feet into the earth; typically 400 to 650 feet deep. These pipes are connected to a heat pump that is hooked up to the ductwork or radiators within a building. The heat pump works similarly to an air conditioner by concentrating and rejecting to the earth via the well field instead of to the air. In winter months the heat pump works in the opposite direction by pulling energy from the earth and concentrating it to distribute throughout the building. Since the earth is a constant temperature this process can be made very energy efficient. Often geothermal systems will use less than 40% of the energy needed to run a high performance HVAC system. With so few parts and a closed system there is very limited maintenance required, usually only filters and the occasional adjustment to heat pumps are needed. Madison Construction is proud to be a leader in this innovative technology and looks to educate and implement these systems whenever possible.
Currently, the biggest roadblock to geothermal development is the lack of sufficient direct economic incentive to offset the cost premium the drilling process entails over a traditional HVAC system. There are no significant technical obstacles that are curtailing current growth and development. Like the oil, gas, solar and wind energy industries, the geothermal industry would benefit substantially from a strong, specific and appropriate economic incentive tied directly to expenditures made well drilling. Making geothermal mechanical systems competitive through these economic incentives with traditional HVAC systems would contribute to curtailing carbon emissions, ozone depletion and global warming.
With the support of the community, Commissioner Liz Gorman and Mayor Dan McLaughlin, Madison Construction has been able to promote Orland Park and Cook County as leaders in the green building revolution as well as to create new jobs in the area.
Harry L. Walder, Jr.