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Geothermal systems bring smaller footprint to scalable, renewable energy

URBANA, Ill. – As Illinois advances towards its goal of converting all energy systems to 100% renewable energy by 2050, it recognizes that other energy sources besides solar and wind are necessary to reach the state’s future demands.

Geothermal energy could be the key to replacing conventional heating and cooling systems. The U.S. EPA reports that new geothermal energy systems would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% and lower energy bills up to 70% due to their efficiency.

“Geothermal energy systems offer a smaller footprint compared to other renewable energy sources, as well as economic efficiencies when scaled as long-term energy solutions,” says Jay Solomon, University of Illinois Extension energy and environment stewardship educator.

To inform public stakeholders about the benefits of geothermal energy and its applications, technology, and industry, Illinois Extension is hosting a free online webinar at noon Thursday, July 29. Presenters will discuss heating and cooling efficiencies at multiple scales for public and private infrastructures and how design factors influence operational performance of geothermal systems.

Register at

Presenters include John Freitag, executive director of the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois, and Tugce Baser and Yu-Feng Forrest, assistant and clinical professors in the Department of Civil Engineering at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Freitag has 30 years of experience with geothermal heat pump technology. Baser specializes in geotechnical engineering and Forrest in geological engineering.

Additional upcoming sessions on Aug. 10 and Aug. 12 at noon support wider adoption of geothermal energy systems in Illinois and will provide decision-makers with examples of campus and community models as part of a public outreach effort through Extension Collaboration Grants, a partnership between Illinois Extension personnel and researchers at University of Illinois.

Solomon says grant collaborators are in early stages of developing an interactive dashboard and decision support tool to help stakeholders to identify potential economic, energy efficiency, and environmental benefits and to demonstrate how geothermal energy can be implemented successfully. To learn more about decision-maker resources, contact Solomon at

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the online session, contact Nancy Ouedraogo at Early requests are strongly encouraged.

SOURCE: Nancy Ouedraogo, Community and Economic Development Specialist, University of Illinois Extension
WRITER: Erin Wunderlich, Writer, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

IMAGES: Geothermal Coalition event graphics are available for media use.