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Mayor Michelle Wu Announces Agreement Between Boston Housing Authority and National Grid to Develop Networked Geothermal Heating at Franklin Field Apartments

Jan 25, 2024 - 4:30 PM



Clean Energy




WALTHAM, MA – Today, Mayor Michelle Wu joined the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and National Grid to announce that Franklin Field Apartments has been selected for National Grid’s Networked Geothermal Demonstration Program. The project will be the first networked geothermal pilot project in the City of Boston and the second in National Grid’s Massachusetts program. Switching energy sources from gas to electric is an important step to create green, healthy communities for residents. This is important in accelerating the Mayor’s goal for BHA to be fossil fuel free by 2030. At the project’s conclusion, the seven buildings in the pilot will be fossil-free.

Networked geothermal is a highly efficient renewable heating technology and source of energy that uses the ground temperature to provide heating and cooling to buildings through an underground piping network. The underground temperature serves as a heat source during winter and transfers indoor heat to the ground for cooling during the summer. 

“Being the greenest city in America means that we will be best able to take care of not only the places we live, but the people we love,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We want to be a city where the benefits we are bringing when it comes to energy efficiency and green energy are not just around being able to check off boxes and hit goals, but that we are able to empower and support the people in our community who make it possible for Boston to do everything that we do. Every Boston family deserves a home that is affordable, safe and healthy.”

“As Boston tackles the challenge of climate change, it is vital that our public housing communities come first,” said Kenzie Bok, Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority. “Our partnership with National Grid is an exciting opportunity to showcase geothermal technology as a fossil-fuel-free alternative for multifamily housing, while also improving resident quality of life by providing 129 BHA families with efficient, state-of-the-art heating and cooling.”

“We are excited to partner with the Boston Housing Authority and the City of Boston to meet our collective climate change, clean energy and equity goals by pursuing this networked geothermal project at Franklin Field, bringing efficient and clean heating and cooling to its residents” said Lisa Wieland, President of National Grid New England. “We are taking the initial learnings from our first project in Lowell and applying them here, which has been extremely valuable.  Key to transitioning away from fossil fuels is to develop and expand reliable alternatives.  Networked geothermal has significant potential to be a solution, especially for larger buildings and campuses, and this partnership will allow us to demonstrate that and bring the benefits of the clean energy future to the Franklin Field community, today.”

The geothermal pilot will replace an aging gas boiler loop currently serving 129 units at seven federal public housing buildings at the BHA’s Franklin Field community in Dorchester. The Boston Housing Authority will invest federal Capital Fund Program resources to support electrification of the heating and domestic hot water equipment within the buildings. National Grid will develop the geothermal network leading to the building’s exterior, and both parties will collaborate on complementary energy efficiency investments funded by the state’s energy efficiency programs. 

In addition to replacing the boiler loop for heat, the ground source heat pumps and geothermal network will give residents in-unit cooling, a feature that is only accessible at present through inefficient window air conditioners purchased by residents. The project will begin design in early 2024, with construction activity to take place in 2025. BHA will lead resident engagement concerning the project in 2024 with National Grid’s support.

As part of the pilot, National Grid will connect Buildings 7-13, located on Ames Way, Ames Street, and Stratton Street in Dorchester, with a horizontal distribution loop and a thermal bore field. Geothermal bore holes will allow the system to extract and deposit heat from the ground. National Grid will also install a pumphouse on BHA property to operate the geothermal network serving the designated Franklin Field buildings. BHA will be responsible for all work within the envelope of the connected buildings necessary to convert these buildings from gas heating to networked geothermal heating and cooling, including retrofits, electrical upgrades, and appliance and heating equipment replacement.

Geothermal heat pumps have a coefficient of performance (COP) of 4, meaning that they are four times more efficient than standard electric resistance heating. Due to their efficiency, a recent report by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that widespread deployment of geothermal heat pumps in the United States could result in up to $1 trillion in cumulative savings, reducing the wholesale price of electricity by up to 12%. 

About National Grid

National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York and Massachusetts. National Grid is focused on building a smarter, stronger, cleaner energy future — transforming our networks with more reliable and resilient energy solutions to meet state climate goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information, please visit our website, follow us on X (formerly Twitter), watch us on YouTube, like us on Facebook and find us on Instagram.

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