Geothermal training heats up at TCL

Local businesses partner to help kick-off program

 With record high temperatures, many Lowcountry residents are thinking about staying cool. 

It’s also on the minds of students and faculty of the industrial technologies division at the Technical College of the Lowcountry – but with a slightly different focus. For them, it’s about finding ways to stay cool efficiently and reliably.


To do this, they are turning their studies to the latest technology in the heating and air industry: geothermal energy. This energy source, which is increasingly valued for being cost effective, reliable, sustainable and environmentally friendly, uses power that has been extracted from heat stored deep within the earth to heat and cool buildings.


“With the increased emphasis on energy conservation, people are wanting to upgrade to geothermal equipment,” said Ken Flick, TCL’s interim dean of industrial technologies. “As a result, there is an increasing need for certified technicians to install and troubleshoot geothermal heat pumps.”


TCL is equipped to help employers meet that growing demand and is the area’s only source for geothermal training, Flick said.


Last August, TCL was named one of only two Geothermal Training Centers in the state, thanks to a $25,000 grant awarded by the S.C. Energy Office. The grant allowed HVAC instructor John Chemsak to be trained and certified in International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) standards and funded the purchase of geothermal training equipment and materials.


With help from faculty, staff and local businesses, a geothermal heat pump system was recently installed at the Beaufort Campus.


“This project was a great example of teamwork – by our students, faculty and the community,” Chemsak said.


John Horry of Horry Well Drilling in Ridgeland drilled two 250-foot boreholes for the system and instructed students on heat fusion while helping them complete the installation.


“Real-world practice like this gives our students hands-on access to the latest technology, helping them prepare for the emerging workforce needs,” Chemsak said. “Plus this project gave our students a chance to observe professionals in action while interacting with them.”


Coastal GeoExchange owned by Don Easson of Bluffton also recently donated a Climate Master Geothermal Heat Pump valued at more than $8,000 to the program, while former Bootle Air Systems owner Bill Bootle of Beaufort donated the flush cart and heat fusion equipment.


“Donations like these are a great example of how our community is giving back to the college and shows just how much the community values our programs and what we offer,” Chemsak said.


Geothermal energy is the newest addition to TCL’s alternative energy education programs that already include components in solar, wind, and tidal energy. TCL has building construction, CAD, and civil engineering instructors who are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design –Accredited Professional (LEED AP) certified.  In addition, TCL is a U.S. Green Building Council Member.


The College is also affiliated with the Building Performance Institute (BPI) through participation with the State Tech Energy Efficiency Training Center Program (EETC) and is designated as one of six Energy Efficient Training Centers in South Carolina. Two faculty members hold Hot Climate Weatherization Instructor status, and one faculty member is a BPI trainer and a BPI proctor in Building Analyst, an Envelope Professional, and a Manufactured Housing Professional.


For more information about any of TCL’s alternative energy programs, please contact Ken Flick at  HYPERLINK “tel:843.525.8241” t “_blank” 843.525.8241 or visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.tcl.edu/green” t “_blank” www.tcl.edu/green.


Upcoming Geothermal Training at TCL:

Ground Source heat pump accredited installer

8 a.m. -5 p.m., September 8,9,10

TCL Beaufort Campus, Building 15

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