Summers in Austin, Texas, are scorching. But just a little way underground, it’s in the low seventies, year-round. Geothermal heating and cooling systems make use of that constant temperature.

“You’re able to draw on that constant thermal resource that’s just below your feet … to either pull the heat out of the earth when it is cold or, when it’s hot, to be able to sink the heat from buildings into the earth using a heat pump,” says Greg Wolfson of the company EcoSmart Solution.

He says geothermal systems have been around for a long time. They can be expensive and are typically installed one house at a time.

But Wolfson’s company is taking a different approach. At a new development near Austin called Whisper Valley, his team installed a community-wide geothermal system that provides heating and cooling to more than 400 homes.

Underground pipes run through the whole community, with connections to each house — kind of like a municipal water system.

He says the shared system is more efficient and cost-effective.

“You’re creating one large resource that effectively all the homes can draw upon,” Wolfson says.

So he says it’s a way to provide clean heating and cooling to hundreds of new homes all at once.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media