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Canada's newest university has one of North America's largest geothermal well fields

Oshawa, ON - The drilling of a geothermal well field-one of the largest in North America-has just been completed on the campus of Canada's newest university, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Three hundred and eighty-four holes, each drilled 213 metres (700 feet) into the earth will be linked to mechanical systems that will provide eight new university buildings with a highly efficient and environmentally friendly heating and cooling system.

According to Bruce Bunker, director of the university's special projects, it took three rigs each digging one hole per day to accomplish the task. "If the holes were laid end to end they would stretch the equivalent of 80 kilometers (50 miles)-that's about from here to the Toronto International Airport."

The drilling is just the first step in the development of a thermal energy storage system that uses the earth's relatively constant temperature to provide a stable, low maintenance and efficient energy source. "Think of this as the radiator if you were building a car," says Bunker. "We still need to connect the hoses to a water pump to cool the engine." He says the completed system will be ready by May 2004.

During the winter, fluid circulating through tubing extended into the wells will collect heat from the earth and carry it into the buildings. In summer, the system will reverse to pull heat from the building and place it in the ground.

The ground source thermal system is just one innovation in the development of the new university campus. A "green" roof on the first and largest academic building will also reduce heating and cooling costs and improve storm water management.

The thermal system is located beneath the campus commons which, when construction is completed in 2006, will be surrounded by academic buildings and the new campus library. This is the first phase of the 47-hectare (117-acre) campus designed by the internationally acclaimed firm of Diamond and Schmitt Architects incorporated of Toronto.

Keen Engineering Co. Ltd, an international consulting and mechanical engineering firm specializing in green building design, provided services to the campus master plan and the central plant that will be connected to the ground source thermal field. Beatty and Associates Ltd. of Calgary provided drilling operations.

About the University of Ontario Institute of Technology

As Canada 's newest university, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology provides a unique combination of academic knowledge, vibrant student life, leading-edge research and hands-on skills. The university offers career-focused degree programs and shares selected facilities with Durham College. Located in Oshawa, Ontario, the university welcomed its first students this September. For more information, visit or call 1.866.844.8648.



Thermal Energy Storage System

What are thermal energy storage systems? Electrically powered systems that tap into the earth's stored energy through boreholes drilled deep into the earth.

How will the system work at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology? The system is comprised of 384 holes within which a glycol solution is circulated through a continuous loop of polyethylene tubing to a depth of 213 metres (700 feet). During the winter, fluid circulating through tubing extended into the wells collects heat from the earth and carries it into the buildings. In summer, the system will reverse to pull heat from the building and place it in the ground.

About Ontario Tech University
Ontario Tech University advances the discovery and application of knowledge through a technology-enriched learning environment and the delivery of innovative market-driven programs responsive to the needs of students and industry. With more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in more than 90 programs, the university promotes social engagement, fosters critical thinking and integrates outcomes-based learning experiences inside and outside the classroom. The university's commitment to accelerating economic growth and social innovation is realized through faculty research collaborations with leading organizations such as Ontario Power Generation, IBM, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Durham Regional Police Service. To find out more, visit

Media contact
Oliver Fernandez
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
905.721.3111, ext. 2513