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Colorado Capitol Goes Geothermal

David Dunn
Flickr - Creative Commons

Need a cool fact? Colorado’s state capitol is now the first in the country to use a geothermal system to cool the building.

Crews just recently tapped into an underground aquifer to regulate the building’s temperature. The new geothermal system will air-condition the Senate and House chambers in the summer and help heat the building in the winter.

Credit Chevron Energy Solutions
Crews drilling the geothermal well outside the capitol.

“It’s an energy source that will last for generations,” said project manager Lance Shepard with the Department of Personnel and Administration. “It’s a constant source from the 65 percent water. And it doesn’t provide all of our heating and cooling but it reduces our base load.”

Shepard says the system will save the state about $100,000 each year on utility bills, at the same time most of the building’s public spaces won’t be air-conditioned.


“And that’s due to the historic nature, getting duct work into those areas would destroy the historic fabric of the building,” said Shepard. “So in the long term we may be able to get there but it’s going to be very difficult and very expensive.”

A federal grant paid for the majority of the $6.6 million project. A small portion of funding also came from guaranteed utility savings. The geothermal system joins the restoration of the capitol dome as work projects that are being done at the capitol.

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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