20 Mar 2013
March 20, 2013

It’s Personal

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Modernizing History

Written by: Paul Simpson, PE

When I relocated to southern Nevada in 2001, the Las Vegas Valley was known for disregarding it’s rich and colorful history.  History often met a violent end at the hands of demolition and implosion experts to make way for bigger, taller and shinier construction.  Often overshadowed by the dust cloud of imploded casinos were the efforts to preserve and bring awareness to our vibrant history and culture such as improvements made to historic properties at Fremont Street such as the expansion of the Golden Gate Hotel, the erection of restored neon signs along Las Vegas Boulevard and the repurposing and restoration of buildings for museums such as the Neon Signs Museum and the National Museum of Crime & Law Enforcement (Mob Museum).

Overlooked even in the history preservation arena is the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.  In the midst of reconstruction along the strip and appearances of the Mob Museum on CSI, the Las Vegas Springs Preserve has been preserving our heritage, culture and history while providing a vision for a sustainable future.  The latest example of their mission is the restoration of four historic railroad cottages.  The cottages were built in the early twentieth century in downtown Las Vegas to house employees of the local railroad industry.  The Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) is restoring and preserving the cottages at the west side of the Springs Preserve.

The cottages will enjoy a luxury their early tenants didn’t have access to, modern heating and cooling systems.  Keeping with the Springs Preserve mission of preservation and sustainability, LVVWD elected to incorporate ground source heat exchange systems (GSHE) rather than traditional air coupled systems.  GSHE systems use the constant temperature of the ground as a heat source during the winter and reject heat to the ground during the summer through plastic geoloops installed to depths of 250 feet.  Water will circulate through the geoloops, carrying heat between the cottages and the ground.

The cottages will enjoy the many sustainability benefits of GSHE systems such as a significant reduction in energy use over traditional heating and air conditioning systems.  The use of water rather than freon as the energy transfer medium and the elimination of natural gas for heating.  A benefit that is not related to GSHE efficiency but no less important to the restoration and preservation of the cottages is the elimination of the external condenser and compressor unit of traditional systems.  All the external portions of the GSHE system are underground, eliminating the noisy fan and unsightly condenser and compressor unit found on traditional systems preserving the historic look and ambiance of the cottages while providing energy efficient, sustainable heating and cooling.