Ball State University & MEP: The Largest Geothermal Project in the Nation

Ball State University

The systems feature 3,600 vertical bore holes, at 400 - 500 feet each, 10 miles of buried distribution piping, 1,000 miles of loop field pipe, two district energy stations, four 2,500 ton heat pump chillers and over 40 building conversions totaling approximately 5,600,000 square feet. Approximately 7 miles of new hot and chilled water supply and return distribution piping was buried, or installed in existing utility tunnels, to buildings in the north half of campus.

Phase 1 Project Overview
This portion of the project includes construction of a new 12,000 ft2 district energy station north, the installation of distribution piping to buildings in the north half of campus, two well fields with a combined total of 1,803 wells (bores), and the conversion of campus buildings to geothermal heating and cooling.


Well Fields
North Well Field - Included removal and replacement of existing site improvements and phased installation of 1,803 (400’-0” deep) Geothermal Vertical Bore Heat Exchanger well system, piping and accessory components.
South Well Field - Included construction of the Base Bid portion of the South Geothermal Well Field, which consists of 780 vertical bores (500’-0” deep) and includes all related site demolition and restoration work.


District Energy Stations
DES North (DESN) - Included construction of the 12,000 ft 2 District Energy Station North designed to house two Compound Centrifugal Compressor Chillers and accessory components.
DES South (DESS) - Included construction Renovations/Additions for the District Energy Station South by reusing the existing chiller plant. This project shall achieve LEED Silver Certification.


The Geothermal Project will Achieve the following:

  • Eliminates 80,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.
  • Cut energy costs by an estimated $2 million annually.
  • Reduce approximately half of the current campus carbon footprint.
  • Eliminate four coal fired boilers built in the 1950s.
  • Heat and Cool more than 40 buildings over the 660 acre campus.

How Ball State’s Geothermal System Works
A geothermal heat pump uses the Earth as either a heat source, when operating in heating mode, or a heat sink-dissipating heat while in cooling mode. At three energy centers on campus, the heat pulled from the ground or returned to the ground will be transferred, or exchanged with heat pump chillers that will be connected to two district loops that run throughout campus. One is a cold water loop, which flows at a constant 42 degrees, and the second is a hot water loop, which flows at a constant 170 degrees. Inside the buildings, heat exchangers and fans will deliver the temperature desired by the occupants.


MEP Associates provided the following services:

  • Geothermal Feasibility Study
  • Geothermal System Design
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Fire Protection for the DESN
  • Mechanical and Electrical for the building conversions
  • Project Management