Construction worker

Ultra-efficient heating and cooling systems will be standard features in a new housing development near Atlanta, Georgia. Rob Parker is president of Pinewood Forest.

Parker: “We will drill geothermal wells for all 700 homes that are part of the community.”

A geothermal system uses underground pipes to draw heat into or out of a building.

Parker: “You’re using the earth to heat and cool your home.”

It works because, several feet underground, the earth maintains a stable temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

Parker: “So you only have to raise or lower that temperature a much smaller amount than you would if you were trying to take, as an example, on a hot day, 100 degree air and get it down to, you know, 68 degrees into your home.”

So the system uses far less energy than traditional heating and cooling, producing less carbon pollution and saving residents money.

Home buyers in Pinewood Forest can either buy the systems themselves or pay a monthly fee to the developer. Drilling the wells is expensive, but Parker expects the investment will pay off in about six or seven years.

Parker: “We just believed in it so much that we’re willing to front those resources and finance that for every buyer.”

Reporting credit: Eric Brown/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...