GeoMicroDistrict Feasibility Study

Massachusetts has one of the oldest gas systems in the country, with 26% leak-prone pipes statewide and over 40% leak-prone in the city of Boston.  Replacing all these pipes with new pipe will cost over $9 billion. Our Global Warming Solutions Act in Massachusetts currently mandates an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels, and many cities – Boston and Cambridge included – are already planning for a carbon-free future.  The challenge is figuring out how to provide reliable, affordable and renewable heating and cooling energy to all. Are the gas pipes going in the ground today what we need for an energy future tomorrow?

BuroHappold Engineering, an international engineering firm, is working to answer these questions for the state of Massachusetts. They did New York’s 80×50 plan, an amazing heat map for London, and are generally on the forefront of rational, data-informed, city and regional planning and engineering. They performed a statewide feasibility study for us to learn if geothermal boreholes in our streets connected to a loop in the existing gas company right of way could provide enough geothermal energy to heat and cool our buildings. And could these small street segments of geothermal MicroDistricts – over time – be connected, to create an integrated renewable, resilient thermal energy system?  

The GeoMicro District model is being built with energy data and advice from many experts including Eversource, MassCEC, DOER, the GreyEdge Group, and so many others.  We are using existing data and careful, reasonable, transparent assumptions to answer the question – Could the GeoMicro District model help us transition off of gas, and become the renewable heating and cooling system for Massachusetts?

BuroHappold and HEET presented the results of the feasibility study on July 1st, 2019. Watch the three videos below to see the presentation.


Introduction to GeoMicroDistrict Feasibility Results by Audrey Schulman and Zeyneb Magavi


BuroHappold Engineering Presents GeoMicroDistrict Feasibility Study Results


GeoMicroDistrict Explained for English Majors & Concluding Remarks


You can read the original feasibility study RFP here.