The Colorado State Capitol building is the first state capitol in the country to be cooled by geothermal power, completed in 2013. An energy performance contract issued in June 2012 by the Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration and Chevron Energy Solutions allowed the upgrade of the Capitol’s HVAC system and installation of a geothermal well that heats and cools the House and Senate Chambers. The geothermal project was part of a larger energy performance contract that began in 2003, which included reduction in electrical, steam and water usage in all 19 of the Capitol Complex buildings and was designed to realize a total of $29 million in energy conservation savings. 

In addition to the upgraded functionality of air conditioning to portions of the building, the project replaced  pumps and other equipment that dated back to the 1940s and was well beyond its estimated useful life, avoiding approximately $904,000 in replacement costs. Cooling was added to both the Senate and House Chambers through existing duct systems. The geothermal system also reduces the main chiller loop load by approximately 200 tons per year.  

“The construction of a geothermal well at the State Capitol demonstrates Colorado’s continued commitment to smart energy use,” said Kathy Nesbitt, Executive Director of the Department of Personnel & Administration. “This project illustrates that you can offset energy usage and improve functionality while making necessary HVAC system repairs.”

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided a $4.4 million demonstration grant toward the overall $6.6 million project. The State financed the remaining $2.2 million through a 15-year lease/purchase realized through guaranteed cost avoidance of $2 million and other in-kind contributions to complete the project.

“Colorado has been a national trend-setter in deploying clean energy technologies, which will be critical to ensuring America’s global competitiveness,” said Dr. David Danielson, the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Retrofitting public facilities to operate with renewable energy helps strengthen our economy, saves taxpayers money over the long term and helps reduce pollution. This project serves as a good example of how communities across the country can improve the energy performance of their state and government buildings.”

The Colorado State Capitol is also the only state capitol to be LEED EBOM (Existing Building Operations and Maintenance) Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. It achieved that status in 2008. 

Download the geothermal project FAQ (MS Word) for more information.