ECC and Buffalo Geothermal Partner

The Erie Community College (ECC) Green Building Technology Center was designed to showcase cutting-edge energy efficient building technologies in an educational setting. ECC engaged Buffalo Geothermal to design and install a state of the art geothermal heating and cooling system in this rather small 1342 square foot formerly residential house. On display and available for student training are a variety of geothermal and distribution systems.

A dual compressor stage water-to-air heat pump (WaterFurnace 5 Series) provides both heating and cooling. The dual stage technology ensures that the heatpump runs in the more efficient 1st stage most of the time when not the maximum amount of heat is needed. This allows the variable speed fan to adapt and operate at the quietest and most comfortable setting, with the capacity to automatically increase the fanspeed if more capacity is needed. A bottom-discharge configuration was selected to allow for easier viewing by students of the inner workings of this heat pump.

A water-to-water heat pump handles the radiant zones as well as conditioning the domestic hot water for the facility all year around. The most efficient radiant distribution systems were installed, comprising of extruded aluminum panels on top of the subfloor just beneath the finished hardwood flooring, as well as radiant pipes below the floor utilizing aluminum heat transfer plates in order to further reduce the needed water temperature.

Multiple innovative control strategies have been applied in order to maximize efficiency. The system measures the outside temperature and generates only the water temperature needed to heat the building. A single ultra efficient DC inverter driven variable speed pump ensures that only the minimum amount of pumping power is used to keep each radiant zone at a desired temperature. Each radiant zone is controlled by a motorized zone valve and has its own thermostatic settings.

Buffalo Geothermal installed a horizontal slinky loop-field, with 3,000 ft of high density polyethylene pipe set at 8’ depth underneath the surrounding parking lot to allow for effective heat transfer. The loopfield serves both heatpumps at the same time, thus if only one heatpump is running, the flow and pumping power is reduced to save electricity, and the heatpump running benefits from the larger loopfield capacity.

Buffalo Geothermal and Earth Sensitive solutions primarily designed the system as an educational and training tool for the next generation of renewable energy installers studying at ECC, utilizing the newest advancements in geothermal technology and design to push geothermal efficiency and comfort to the next level.

As a leader in geothermal efficiency and design, Buffalo Geothermal conducts regular training sessions to ECC students to provide onsite hands-on experience.

See the Buffalo News article about the EEC green technology center at