The temperature of the earth several feet underground is about 55 degrees year-round.

Geothermal energy systems make use of that stable temperature, pulling heat out of the ground to warm buildings or pumping it back for cooling.

Typically, they’re installed one house at a time, and the upfront cost can be significant.

But next year, a neighborhood in Framingham, Massachusetts, will become the first in the country with a networked geothermal system

“[The technology] connects multiple customers together so that you can gain some efficiency … and ultimately save everybody on energy costs to operate it,” says Eric Bosworth of Eversource, the utility company running the project. 

Eversource will install a centralized system of vertical, underground pipes to absorb the earth’s heat and release it. 

“And then we’ll run mains in the street, similar to how a gas main or a water main would be run,” Bosworth says. “And we will pull a pair of service lines to each home or business.”

The pilot is expected to include 29 homes, five commercial buildings, and 10 apartment buildings. 

If it proves cost-effective, the approach could be replicated elsewhere to provide more communities with clean, renewable heating and cooling.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media