How can you build efficient Urban communities, homes, and businesses?

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Geothermal heating/cooling

Geothermal heating/cooling refers to the idea of running water pipes below ground where the earth's temperature is a constant 56 degrees. In extreme temperatures (winter or summer) that 56 degree water gives you a boost in heating or cooling your home. But can be prohibitively expensive for a single home. However, if you plan a complete community around this concept, costs go way down.

I believe you can also use this concept for warming roads, sidewalks, and driveways in a community so no snow plowing is needed.

Per Wikipedia: Geothermal energy is a type of renewable energy that encourages conservation of natural resources. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencygeo-exchange systems save homeowners 30–70 percent in heating costs, and 20–50 percent in cooling costs, compared to conventional systems.[24] Geo-exchange systems also save money because they require much less maintenance. In addition to being highly reliable they are built to last for decades.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_heating

Two kilometers from my home there is a new project "Geworteld Wonen" ("Rooted Living") which applies geothermal cooling and heating. This works comfortably in summer and winter, one resident told me. Also they use simple techniques such as heat exchangers near the shower sink. The house facades are made of maintenance-free recycled plastics.

Some information translated from Dutch is here.

Running the pipes under a water source like a pond, also increases the efficiency of the system because water is a better medium to transfer heat.  So if there was a central green area with a park and a pond that the lines were run into that could work.  Plus you could run the storm water to the same pond.  Stock the pond with some fish and allow the neighborhood a limit on fish 🙂

Geothermal heating for roads and sidewalks would be a massive benefit to a community in most blighted areas, since they all seem to be in snowy areas.  Snow removal costs for cities such as mine are not only very expensive at the best of times, they are variable costs that change year to year depending on different storm events.  What that usually means is the wrong amount of money was budgeted, which leads to either funds being reallocated expensively, or pissed off taxpayers who feel they overpaid for services that weren't rendered.

Another factor is the massive savings on road wear and tear from the freeze/thaw cycle that most areas with blight removal would run into.  As winter doesn't have a set temperature day to day, water freezes and melts in between roads and creates the huge number of potholes and cracked roads us Northerners know and love.  If a relatively stable temperature could be maintained on roads with cheap geothermal energy, you don't just save money on road plowing.  Car repairs in the town would suddenly become cheaper, with fewer bent rims from potholes and less salt damage.  With less salt on the roads, even shoes wear out less frequently.  Health care costs decrease as fewer people fall and injure themselves on icy sidewalks, and even insurance premiums could decrease, in theory.  Not to mention the saved lives from car accidents that can be avoided!

As an economic comparison, there seems to be a pretty big opportunity cost in NOT heating roads and sidewalks, when the option is so easy for a town being built from the ground up.

Similarly, set up a local gym and use theachines to generate electricity that feeds the system.

Quote from jfisher on August 10, 2018, 3:36 am

Geothermal heating for roads and sidewalks would be a massive benefit to a community in most blighted areas, since they all seem to be in snowy areas.  Snow removal costs for cities such as mine are not only very expensive at the best of times, they are variable costs that change year to year depending on different storm events.  What that usually means is the wrong amount of money was budgeted, which leads to either funds being reallocated expensively, or pissed off taxpayers who feel they overpaid for services that weren't rendered.

Another factor is the massive savings on road wear and tear from the freeze/thaw cycle that most areas with blight removal would run into.  As winter doesn't have a set temperature day to day, water freezes and melts in between roads and creates the huge number of potholes and cracked roads us Northerners know and love.  If a relatively stable temperature could be maintained on roads with cheap geothermal energy, you don't just save money on road plowing.  Car repairs in the town would suddenly become cheaper, with fewer bent rims from potholes and less salt damage.  With less salt on the roads, even shoes wear out less frequently.  Health care costs decrease as fewer people fall and injure themselves on icy sidewalks, and even insurance premiums could decrease, in theory.  Not to mention the saved lives from car accidents that can be avoided!

As an economic comparison, there seems to be a pretty big opportunity cost in NOT heating roads and sidewalks, when the option is so easy for a town being built from the ground up.

Great idea. It would be crazy not do this in northern cities where geothermal energy is possible and cheap. But I wonder if the geothermal energy can be redirected to other uses when there's no snow or ice?