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Larry Lessard (left), VP of Achieve Renewable Energy, the New England Geothermal Professional Association (NEGPA) Vice President and 2018 “GeoStar Top Job” award winner, with John Manning (right), NY-GEO Board Member, creator of the Top Job contest and President of Phoenix Energy Supply. Photo:

Achieve is Proud Winner of the 2018 NY-GEO Top Job Competition

The 2018 NY-GEO Top Job Competition drew an international crowd of more than 300 people. The presentations and vendor exhibits were informative. The fourth annual “GeoStar Top Job” competition was the highlight of the conference. There were five finalists. NEGPA’s (New England Geothermal Professional Association) Vice President, Larry Lessard, of Achieve Renewable Energy in Salem, MA won the competition! The winning project was the conversion of a 19th century mill building in Arlington, MA to a 21st century technology incubator.

Arlington Center Garage and Service Corporation, the owners of the mill, were undertaking renovations of the timber and brick structure. The first floor was vacant, and Glance Networks, a technology company, occupied the second floor. The goal was to create a bright and inviting Class A office space on the first floor with multiple private offices and open work areas. This space was built for WorkBar, a regional, technology-focused workspace sharing company. Maintaining a short schedule to meet WorkBar’s move-in date was a key to project success.

interior commercial building before renovations
Mill Before Renovations. Image: Larry Lessard.

Renovating the HVAC System

A major part of the mill’s renovation was upgrading the HVAC system. The building was heated by a fuel oil-fired steam system which was replaced with a ground source heat pump (GSHP) system. Achieve Renewable Energy, LLC (Achieve) installed the GSHP.  Since the owner had a goal of reduced carbon emissions and lower operation costs, he chose the GSHP system.

The Process

There were permitting challenges for the project, as the project was within a wetland resource area. The available space for the ground source required crossing Mill Brook and a large sewer main. Achieve devised a method for pipe routing and obtained the required special permits.

The ground source consisted of eight vertical bores drilled in diorite and gabbro. Each boring was completed with a 1.25 inches diameter HDPE u-bend and backfilled with graphite-enhanced grout with a thermal conductivity of 1.6 Btu/hr-ft-°F. The borings were plumbed in parallel in pairs and combined in a pipe vault. From the vault, four inches diameter piping traversed the sewer main and brook.

Mill workspace after renovation
Picture of the mill showing renovations of the timber and brick structure. Image: Larry Lessard.

Achieve installed variable-speed, central loop circulation that supported six WaterFurnace GSHPs. Three of the GSHPs utilize variable-speed compressors and condition up to six zones each. The other three GSHPs utilize two-stage compressors and support up to four zones each. The first floor design alone had 18 zones. The building has 24 zones. Each GSHP is monitored remotely using a WaterFurnace Aurora Web-Link (AWL).

The Results

Construction was completed on time, and the renovated facility opened to great fanfare. Based upon data from the AWLs, for the 12 months from March 2017 through February 2018, the approximately 12,000 sq. ft. historic building had total heating and cooling cost of $6,415 at $0.18/kWh. Of this, about $1,500 was cooling of a server room.

GSHP Installation
Installation by Achieve Renewable Resources of a ground source heat pump system at a 19th century mill building in Arlington, MA. The ground source consisted of eight vertical bores.

The mill owner commented that this is the lowest maintenance, quietest and lowest operating cost heating system at any of their numerous facilities. The GSHP system has been expanded as WorkBar expands. Achieve is now involved in a GSHP at the adjacent, larger mill building for the same owner.

Congratulation to Larry and his team at Achieve on winning the NY-GEO Top Job Competition!

Larry Lessard is the Vice President of NEGPA and Director of Achieve Renewable Energy, LLC.

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And NEGPA’s website is here: