North Academic Complex site tours, geothermal presentation to be offered Friday

  • February 26, 2024
  • David Leder

Significant progress is being made at the North Academic Complex (NAC) site, and members of the campus community are invited to take a first-hand look later this week.

The CWU Capital Planning and Projects team will be leading tours of the NAC site, located off Dean Nicholson Boulevard, on Friday, March 1, from 9-11 a.m.

Capital Projects and Projects Director Delano Palmer, Construction Project Coordinator Joe Chanes, and Sustainability Officer Jeff Bousson will lead students from the Construction Management and Geology departments on a tour of the future location of the 104,200-square-foot Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold academic complex.

Faculty and staff are also invited to tour the site, which will also be home to a geothermal well — and nearby GeoEco Plant — that will heat and cool the NAC and other north campus facilities once the project is completed in 2026.

“Roughly 95% of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions are directly attributable to how we heat, cool, and power our campus infrastructure and operations,” Bousson said. “The North Academic Complex and GeoEco Plant will make a significant impact toward achieving our institutional goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030.”

Anyone interested in participating in Friday’s site tours should come to the construction site with your CWU identification. Long pants and boots are also required; hard hats, vests and safety glasses will be provided.

Members of the campus community who want to learn more about how geothermal technology will impact the future of the CWU campus are encouraged to attend a presentation following the site tours.

Anthony Schoen of MW Engineers will present “Electrifying CWU’s Heating System with Geothermal Energy” from noon to 1 p.m. in Discovery Hall, room 103. No pre-registration is required, and anyone is welcome.

Schoen will also discuss the benefits of geothermal power in an interview with 88.1 The ‘Burg on Friday. The broadcast will be available online at  


Project Updates

Crews from Garco Construction and Civil Contractor Hurst Construction have been ramping up their work at the NAC site during the month of February. They recently brought in the rock and grading materials needed to prep the site to pour the concrete for the foundation footings — work that got underway late last week.

The former Flag Pavilion has been completely removed, while the abatement phase of demolition for the Language and Literature (L&L) building has also been completed. Demolition of L&L is currently slated to start the week of March 4. A live feed of the NAC construction site can be viewed online.

nac-interior-2.jpgNearby, construction teams have been focusing their efforts on the canal crossing at the Arboretum and Dean Hall, where they will install two 18-inch low-temperature hot water lines. These lines will connect the NAC and GeoEco Plant online to CWU’s current utility loop.

As Chanes explained, “This scope poses some unique challenges in re-directing the water from the town ditch canal to install new piping five feet below the canal bed.”

Finally, crews are working with the City of Ellensburg to drill a geothermal test well. CWU construction officials expect the development of the geothermal well and accompanying GeoEco Plant to provide a roadmap for how a potential second GeoEco Plant might be developed with additional state funding.

CWU requested $12.4 million for a second well and GeoEco Plant in the current legislative session, and early indications are that the university will receive the funding it will need to begin phase two of the geothermal power project.

In the meantime, the campus community is encouraged to share feedback and input prior to the completion of the CWU’s upcoming Climate Change Action Plan next month. The Sustainability Office will be hosting Sustainability Forums on April 23 and May 21 to allow members of the campus community to learn more about local sustainability issues and get involved. Learn more on the CWU Sustainability webpage

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David Leder

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