Nashville Airport Water Source Geothermal Project Receives Award for Sustainable Infrastructure

The Water Source Geothermal project implemented at the Nashville International Airport in Tennessee is the recent recipient of the Envision Silver award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). The Envision system rates sustainable infrastructure projects across the full range of environmental, social, and economic impacts.

In 2010, the Metro Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA) was selected as one of 10 airports in the United States to take part in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Sustainable Master Plan Pilot Program. The MNAA was selected for this program for its demonstrated leadership in implementing sustainability initiatives, and promotion of water conservation, energy efficiency, social well-being, and community involvement.

The MNAA’s Master Plan included the implementation of this water source geothermal project to meet the airport’s cooling and irrigation needs. The plan was broadly supported and approved by the Board of Commissioners, which is a diverse group with three representatives from the business and finance community, two pilots, two neighborhood representatives, one engineer, one lawyer, and the Nashville mayor.

As a collaboration between ISI and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Envision system rates the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole. The ISI Envision system measures sustainability in five categories: quality of life, leadership, natural world, resource allocation, and climate and risk. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community.

In addition to significantly reducing electrical demand, the Water Source Geothermal project also reduces potable water consumption—by more than 30 million gallons. Prior to the implementation of this project, the airport’s irrigation and cooling systems relied on water from Metro Water Services, which pulls water from the Cumberland River for treatment and distribution.

The project will also significantly reduce the airport’s dependency on its natural gas-fired boilers, which use on average 39,700 therms of natural gas per month.

Nashville will host 2017 Groundwater Week, December 5-7.


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