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On the eve of its 2012-13 Thoroughbred racing season, which begins Dec. 1, the track has introduced a state-of-the-art geothermal HVAC system designed to save energy and costs while requiring virtually no maintenance.
The underground, closed-loop system was installedafter the conclusion of the 2011-12 meeting as part of the track’s ongoing “green initiative.” New chiller units were brought in prior to work commencing on the system.
Tampa Bay Downs Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube and Vice President of Facilities and Track Surfaces Tom McLaughlin called the system the next step toward the ultimate goal of having a “net-zero impact” on the environment. McLaughlin said the system will save about one million gallons of water per year, as well as decreasing electrical costs.
“The installation of the geothermal HVAC system is ‘Phase Two’ of our environment-friendly  initiative,” Berube said. “We believe we have a responsibility to conserve energy and reduce our carbon footprint, and we will continue to explore ways to use energy wisely and efficiently.”
During ‘Phase One’ last year, workers installed an energy-saving CREE LED lighting system inside the clubhouse and grandstand and a Gaco Sil S-20 “Cool Roof” coating system, designed to prevent weather degradation.
In layman’s terms, a geothermal HVAC system uses the constant below-ground temperature of soil or water to cool homes, commercial buildings and public facilities.
At Tampa Bay Downs, water from an underground aquifer is drawn to the chillers and loops through a heat exchanger, which returns the water at a constant temperature of 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit without impacting the aquifer. This is accomplished in a manner that saves energy and money.
“Water is in such demand that this was a smart, responsible decision to progress on our environmentally sound path,” McLaughlin said. “We will continue to strive toward lessening our impact and making a positive difference in the community.”

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