University News

UMass Amherst’s Carbon Zero Project Ramps Up with Geothermal Test Well Drilling in Two Locations

An essential aspect of UMass Carbon Zero, UMass Amherst’s ambitious plan to transition away from fossil fuels and achieve a net zero carbon footprint by 2032, will take a notable step forward this month with geothermal capacity tests in selected areas of campus.

Heavy equipment and rigs for water and soil management will be mobilized to two locations to drill geothermal test wells: the first between Draper and Stockbridge halls and the second off Governor’s Drive opposite Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences.

As part of safety protocols, pedestrians should follow signage and stay within the established safety perimeters near the construction zones.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 15, those who park in Lot 65 should refrain from parking in the spaces within the indicated construction zone. Environmental Health & Safety vehicles should use the temporary parking spaces exclusively after Monday. Work at the second test well site starts on Monday, Aug. 29.

The first two weeks of the four-to-six-week project is expected to be the most disruptive as the two 8-inch-wide by 800-foot-deep wells are established. There will be significant noise and wet soil in these two locations. Once in place, the wells will be tested over the remaining two to four weeks, then they will be buried and grass and hardscaping will be restored.

The system when completed is designed to inform the planning and design of a large-scale regional conversion of the campus energy infrastructure from fossil-fueled steam production to a modern low-temperature-hot-water heating system paired with geothermal heat exchange.