Calbuco`s Family Health Center keeps warm with geothermal energy

Monday, 29 de August

In this area of Los Lagos Region, subsoil temperature is used for heating the building of a primary health care center which receives about 2000 people monthly.

The Family Health Center of Calbuco, at the south of Chile, is a project that cares for energy efficiency. Since its opening in 2012, it has a mechanism of air conditioning that uses the geothermal resource for heating a building of 1700 m².

To achieve this, a soil or slab radiant heating system was installed inside the building, while on the outside a pipe system circulates water extracted from layers underground, at 90 meters depth: “Deep in the ground we found the water to be at a constant temperature close to 14°C. In order to use this water, we installed a deep well pump connected to two geothermal heat pumps which, through a compression process, manages to increase the temperature of the water up to 45 ° C. Then, this water will circulate by the hosepipes system (floor heating) that manages to transfer heat to the building “, says Guillermo Muñoz, Civil Engineer and technical manager of ISO Engineering, the company in charge of setting up the project.

Guillermo says that at the interior of the building the temperature is regulated automatically between 20 to 22° C: ” thermostats are installed in different spaces, regulating the temperature according to the needs of the moment”. Also, the system is used for heating water in the building, which implies economic benefits over time: “Although the initial investment is high, once installed, costs are considerably lower compared to another types of technology”.

Juan Barría, an industrial technician in charge of maintenance of CESFAM at Calbuco, says that this system was a pioneer project in the city:The experience has been a success because it reduces the carbon footprint of the Center, also in the operational part it is very easy and safe to use. Also, it has a great performance because in addition to economic savings, it creates a clean and sustainable project that improves the environmental conditions of the area”. He also highlights that since its inauguration in 2012 it has not presented failures, since a preventive maintenance of the equipment is performed quarterly.

In the future, says Barría, will continue to work towards sustainability: “Our goal is to become a reference in green construction for our community”. The last already can be seen in nearby towns like Los Muermos, where a similar geothermal heating system was installed in another health care centre.