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$8.8M geothermal project begins next week at Antioch College

Antioch College next week will begin work on an $8.8 million geothermal project — the start of a long-term plan that could make the Yellow Springs campus the first in the country to run on green energy.

Antioch will begin Nov. 1 drilling 150 geothermal wells that will heat and cool the campus through a central plant. The wells and a solar array are expected to cut campus energy costs by about $400,000 each year once the recently re-opened campus is fully developed, according to Thomas R. Brookey, the chief operating officer.

“We know of no other college that has attempted such a comprehensive and holistic approach to sustainability across all of its education and operational programs,” said President Mark Roosevelt in a statement.

“We expect that when we are done, a great deal of attention will be focused on Antioch and Yellow Springs as we become a national model for sustainability in higher education,” he said.

Antioch has been in the national spotlight since it re-opened in 2011 after being shuttered three years earlier because of financial troubles. The more than 160-year-old college is separate of Antioch University, which has its Midwest campus located in Yellow Springs. Students in the first four classes admitted do not pay tuition for their four years on campus through a fellowship.

The project to make the campus more sustainable matches a “pillar” of the college’s strategic plan. “The way we live today is not really sustainable,” said spokesman Mark Blackmon.

“If we are going to be educating our students in the classroom about ways they can be sustainable, we feel really strongly that we have to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk,” he said. “We’re going to say that this is the way you do it. You don’t have to start from scratch. You can have a historic campus and renovate buildings in a green way… that does not harm the environment.”

The well project just south of campus will be done in two phases, and the drilling is expected to last two months, according to Antioch. The first phase of work is valued at $4.7 million. Roosevelt said the work will be “loud and messy” and will be done from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays only.

“We will make every effort to contain both the noise and mess,” he said.

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