GEO Works for a National GHP Certification Standard

On March 15, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) to create a national certification standard for personnel involved with installing geothermal heat pump (GHP) systems.

Project goals include increasing customer confidence in the technology; reducing the potential for improperly installed systems; and assuring product quality and performance. Funding of just over $1 million is through a DOE Assistance Agreement under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Principal Investigator for the project is GEO Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Kelly.

The new standard will apply to all types of GHP systems, including open and closed loop water source systems, direct-exchange GHP systems and hybrid GHP systems, and will be based on current industry best practices. The project is not intended to research new products or installation methodologies. It will not include development of curriculum, training, or certification programs. Nor will it address HVAC equipment, regulations or the methodologies for design or installation of GHP systems.

The project team will coordinate work to develop a “strawman” certification standard that will be widely circulated for review and feedback by all facets of the geothermal heating and cooling industry and related organizations (utility, HVAC, groundwater, design, energy, environment, training, certification, government). As work progresses, project partners will undertake outreach efforts, including website information and feedback, and participation in¬†various industry forums, workshops and conferences.

Initial project tasks include surveying GHP systems to identify underlying causes of successes and failures, and to identify characteristics of participants with successful systems (federal facilities, utilties, industry). Draft survey components will include location, environment, geology, building characteristics, HVAC/GHP system characteristics (design, installation, commissioning, performance), design methodologies (software, etc.), regulations (licenses, permits, inspections), project management, operation and maintenance, financing and cost/benefit, occupant/owner issues and perspectives.