Moorhead Environmental Complex

Energy & Atmosphere

Renewable Energy

The Moorhead Environmental Complex is equipped with solar panels to generate clean, renewable energy. Our real-time solar energy production can be viewed online by visiting Sunny Portal.

Geothermal Heating & Cooling

While the archaelogical record shows that the first use of geothermal heat in North America dates back more than 10,000 years, our geothermal system is a little more sophisticated than soaking in hot springs. Our system relies on a ground-source heat pump, first developed in 1948 at Ohio State University.

Goodbye, Heating Oil

The system in the Moorhead Environmental Complex is actually the second geothermal system the Center has installed. We moved away from burning heating oil as our primary heat source in 1996 when the last expansion of our campus occurred. With the addition of the new building we installed a new ground loop and tied the new system into the older one.

Of course, the geothermal system doesn’t just heat our building — it also taps the constant temperature of the earth to cool us in the warmer months. 100% of the heathing and cooling needs of the Moorhead Environmental Complex are supplied by its geothermal systems.

The result: MUCH lower utility bills and a much smaller carbon footprint compared to heating with fossil fuels. Which leaves us feeling good about our campus and frees up resources for our mission: to advance knowledge and stewardship of fresh water.

Sources: A History of Geothermal Energy in the United States

Click for details about our geothermal system

Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating is one of the most efficient forms of heating available today. Our radiant floor system is supplied by hot water supplied from a geothermal heat pump.

Click for details about our wetland wastewater treatment system

The DIY television channels may make radiant, underfloor heating seem like a groundbreaking new idea. But did you know it actually dates back to the Stone Age?

Archaeological evidence points to the use of underfloor heating in some areas of Asia and the Aleutian islands, possibly as far back as 5,000 BC. Trenches were dug underneath the floors of subterranean houses to circulate warmed air from fires. Floor stones covering the trenches then transferred the heat into the living spaces.

Better known is the widespread use of hypocausts (for heating public baths) by the Greeks and Romans around 500 BC.

Hypocaust in a Roman bath house. Photo by Daniel Zvi.

While Frank Lloyd Wright favored it as early as 1905, radiant heating was popularized in this country during the post-World War II housing boom. Thousands of homes in the iconic suburb of Levittown, NY were built with copper and concrete systems; however, most of those systems failed within 20 years, probably due to the feverish construction timetable and inexperienced installers. This black mark on radiant heating’s name caused it to fall out of favor for decades as new construction favored forced hot air systems.

Development of better tubing, better insulation, and better construction techniques have led to renewed interest in radiant heating systems. Our system is more sophisticated than the Romans could have imagined, and doesn’t require us to light any fires! We expect that in combination with our geothermal system it will keep our building comfortable while greatly reducing heating costs.

Sources: A Brief History of Radiant Heating;

Green Power

Stroud Water Research Center has contracted to purchase green power certificates equal to 50% of the electricity needs of the Moorhead Environmental Complex from Clean Currents.