Skip to main content

Summer 2024 Geothermal Updates

View construction map and alternative routes

Colorado Mesa University's Geo-Exchange Technology is:

World-Class Engineering

  • CMU’s design is one of the largest geo-systems in North America
  • Provides heating and cooling for 1.2 million square feet of academic and auxiliary buildings
  • 16 connected buildings
  • 2.5 miles of central loop pipe

Prioritizing Sustainability

  • CMU’s carbon footprint reduced by 17,742 metric tons of CO2 per year
  • Saves CMU 14,862,864 electric kilowatt hours per year
  • Saves CMU 705,986 therms per year
  • Provides 2,728 tons of energy-efficient heating and 3,113 tons of energy-efficient cooling

Keeping College Affordable

  • $1.5 million in energy costs are saved each year
  • Nearly $12 million in energy savings since 2008
  • Provides 90% of the energy required to operate campus
  • Cost predictability over time allows CMU to offer the second lowest tuition rate in Colorado

The Future of Energy Innovation

  • In 2023, CMU received $6 million from State of Colorado to expand CMU's underground infrastructe. CMU invested $3 million towards that same project. Summer 2024, that construction is underway 
    • With those dollars, CMU will connect 9 additional campus buildings and explore additional renewable energy integrations
  • In Spring 2024, the Colorado Energy Office Geothermal Energy Grant Program awarded CMU approximately $400,000 to help expand the project.
    • Fine Arts Building- This next phase of the geothermal expansion will enable the installation of the shovel-ready Fine Arts building connection to the geothermal grid.
    • Tolman Hall- This next phase of the geothermal expansion will be the design of the necessary building conversion and geothermal connections to bring Tolman Hall onto the geothermal exchange system.
  • Potential to add City of Grand Junction buildings and Grand Junction High School facilities to CMU’s geo-grid
Geo-Exchange System
CMU is pioneering geo-exchange technology with the goal to be the first university in America to be fully heated and cooled by a geo-exchange system.

CMU geo-exchange system is a Heat Beneath Our Feet national feature project

In 2021 the Western Governors' Association launched the national Heat Beneath our Feet initiative to examine the nation's geothermal and geo-exchange technologies. Geo-exchange systems, like the one at CMU, showcase how heat from the earth can support the heating and cooling needs of western states. The initiative was launched on the campus of CMU because the university boasts one of the most remarkable geo-exchange systems anywhere in the world. At CMU, the soil beneath the feet of students holds the secret to energy savings for the institution, world-renowned sustainability efforts and lowered tuition.

CMU's geo-grid is made up of a complex network of geo-exchange systems and is a never-ending, renewable source of energy. From 500 feet beneath campus, the geo-exchange technology uses the cold winters and hot summers to exchange heat and cooling to maximize energy efficiency year-round.

Geo-exchange technology is an important part of CMU's sustainability efforts. To expand its energy saving potential, CMU embarked on a true engineering marvel where the system is interlocked with the campus's Olympic-sized swimming pool, irrigation system and domestic water needs using these sources as a heatsink. These technical engineering solutions make the system not just efficient, but innovative, and has saved CMU students millions of dollars by allowing the university to keep tuition rates low even when electricity and heating and cooling prices are high.

As the nation is in its early stage of the adoption of geo-exchange potential, CMU has long been saving energy and has plans to further expand the system in the coming years. The expansion will connect additional buildings, additional geo-grid fields and will incorporate solar voltaic energy to further reduce electricity use on campus.

Achieving the completion of the CMU geo-grid project will deliver an example of what the future of the nation's energy diversity can look like. The project provides value to students as well as all stakeholders who contribute to the university by helping the long-term sustainability and affordability of the campus and its energy portfolio.