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I Didn’t Know That: Geothermal Boise State

Did you know that Boise has the largest geothermal energy system in the country? Geothermal water provides heat to 90 plus buildings downtown, which is 6 million square feet of building space, and it’s still expanding. For all the buildings and square feet, it only costs the city around $1,000 a month to heat. That’s pretty amazing. So for earth day, let’s talk about this super unique and sustainable way we’re using our resources for energy.

There is a bunch of really cool science involved with how exactly we have access to approximately 177-degree water and it’s been that way for over the last 125 years. Basically, there’s an old fault line near Military Reserve where water heated by a super hot rock appears near the surface.

Boise State hopped on the geothermal train in 2012, adding 160-degree natural heat to 700,000 square feet of campus.

If you’ve spent time in any of these buildings in the colder months, chances are you’ve felt the warmth of some neat science going on under the earth’s surface:

  • Administration Building
  • Morrison Center
  • Mathematics Building
  • Student Union Building
  • Multi-Purpose Classroom Building
  • Interactive Teaching and Learning Center
  • Micron Business and Economics Building
  • Alumni & Friends Center
  • Center For Visual Arts
  • Environmental Research Building

Keep your eye out for those geothermal heat signs as you travel around Boise. With one-third of downtown buildings being part of the network, chances are you won’t be able to avoid them.

You can learn more about Boise State’s sustainability efforts at https://www.boisestate.edu/sustainability/.

Idaho Press wrote a great article about the history and details of how Boise’s geothermal system works here.


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