As the clock neared 11 a.m. on Monday morning, a drilling pipe proceeded into the ground behind the district office, which began the step toward ground source heating and air conditioning for the entire Mineral County School District buildings. This fulfillment is the result of the school bond passing last November, with the assistance of community voters.

“This is an exciting venture for many reasons,” stated Tom Gallegos, maintenance director for the school district. “We will be the first school district in Nevada to go all green. Also, we will experience such a cost effectiveness by eliminating propane and diesel costs, plus the service contracts and expensive repairs or safety checks on the old boilers. But above all is the fact of comfort and the savings we will have within each room in a building. Every room will have their own thermostat, so if a room is not in use it is not being heated anymore.”

With secured funding in place, the school board had approved that work began with Sierra Eco Systems, an approved company which assisted in previously completed work done at the high school modular’s in the past.

Walt Hackford, superintendent of schools was on hand to watch as the oversized equipment began grinding gears to create a test drill which will assist with identifying temperature and efficiency within the projects endeavor.

“This is a landmark moment for Mineral County and our school district. Promises made are promises being kept and I am excited to have our community share in this accomplishment. Going green is best for our future and a secure venture for our buildings to maintain longevity,” Hackford proudly shared.

Ric Rowlatt from Sierra Eco Systems explained the location of drilling was selected by the area with the least impact on existing classroom settings. A test drill tracks many important items which includes base readings and thermal conductivity. These are then measured by classrooms and buildings, yielding the percentages per unit which will be necessary. From there things proceed into the ground source heating and air results which requires a hole at each room area.

Kevin Smidt, a driller with Bertram Drilling located in Billings, Mont. was on hand to explain that the first test drill takes the longest time due to soil adaptation, positioning and learning which drill bits and combinations work through to the 300 foot depth they were achieving. He explained that a testing site sets the tone for the next drill but by the time three holes are completed it is done rather quickly as the area soil formation has been figured out.

Rowlatt explained that ground source heating and air conditioning has been in existence since 1940 and in Europe, three out of every five homes work on ground source heating. He also added that in some foreign countries it is now required and even in counties throughout the United States it is a growing trend that new buildings require ground source heat and air.

“Being on the cutting edge will give us such a practical advantage to lower our costs, reduce maintenance and build a reputation of positive growth to Mineral County,” Gallegos added.