EcoSmart Solution designs, builds residential communities with geothermal systems

EcoSmart Solution designs, builds residential communities with geothermal systems Whisper Valley community in Austin, Texas (source: YouTube screenshot, Whisper Valley YouTube channel)
Carlo Cariaga 11 Oct 2022

In this interview with EcoSmart Solution CTO Greg Wolfson, he discussed the company's innovative sustainable technology and how it can benefit residential communities.

Several weeks ago, we reported on a residential community being built in Austin, Texas atop the biggest residential geothermal grid system.

The Whisper Valley community is being built as the flagship project of EcoSmart Solution, an affiliate of global real estate investment firm Taurus Investment Holdings (TIH) and a green energy services provider that designs and delivers innovative geothermal infrastructure combined with a comprehensive suite of distributed energy sources; enabling developers and builders of large-scale new construction neighborhoods to create energy efficient communities and homes, providing new homeowners and tenants an affordable, comfortable, and sustainable living.

ThinkGeoEnergy was given the opportunity to do an interview with Greg Wolfson, CTO of EcoSmart Solution, on their innovative and sustainable technologies and how the legislative and economic landscapes have opened new opportunities for geothermal infrastructure. Below is our interview with Greg Wolfson published in full.

Greg Wolfson, CTO of EcoSmart Solution

Please tell us more about the geothermal heating technology of EcoSmart Solution. What makes it different from other companies offering similar services or technologies?

EcoSmart Solution is a leader in green energy services, designing, building, and delivering an innovative geothermal infrastructure paired with a comprehensive portfolio of distributed energy resources like solar PV generation, EV charging, and energy storage.

When combined, EcoSmart Solution’s innovative combination of sustainable technologies results in large-scale, master-planned communities, like our flagship project in Austin, Texas, known as Whisper Valley, which currently consists of 400+ homes already built, with plans for 7,500+ homes and apartments, as well as schools, and commercial buildings, and more, all of which will be zero-energy capable.

The uniqueness of EcoSmart Solution is that we’re able to utilize the Earth’s natural resources to power our GeoGrid in communities across the U.S.  In addition to Whisper Valley, which taps into the constant temperature of the Earth’s crust, our geothermal technology is also used in a multifamily development in Orlando, Florida, where the technology leverages the Floridan Aquifer to exchange heat with the subsurface body of water. Our upcoming project, Millican Reserve in College Station, Texas, will access the community’s lake to optimize the geothermal exchange system.

What have been the challenges of developing housing communities with integrated geothermal grids from the ground up?

Continued construction cost volatility and a shifting landscape in how construction lending is priced and financed.

There has recently been a lot of focus on Texas and its geothermal potential. What do you think has made Texas suddenly so attractive for geothermal development?

The extreme heat of recent summers and surprisingly cold winter storms have put a strain on conventional energy and HVAC systems to provide cost-effective climate control within the built environment. Geothermal Exchange provides a cost-effective solution to enable ground-sourced heat pumps to access the earth’s constant temperature for summer cooling and winter heating.  Coupled with the region’s oil and gas industry experience with drilling wells, Geothermal Exchange is a natural renewable resource for Texans to tap into.

Do the recent legislative developments provide enough incentive for geothermal projects? What other policy changes would you propose to boost this industry?

The Inflation Reduction Act’s treatment of geothermal technology and highly efficient geothermal heat pumps are a great start on how legislation provides an incentive for future geothermal projects. Alongside solar and wind technology, geothermal has become a crucial part of the energy transition, which will only drive consumer demand for more energy-efficient and resilient homes and apartments.

Additionally, investors are prioritizing business opportunities that meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, so no matter the stakeholder, whether it’s the renter, landlord, builder, or developer, there is a drive for greener housing opportunities on all levels.

What’s next for EcoSmart Solution? Are there any plans to diversify to other geothermal heating or cooling applications? 

With a number of projects in our pipeline, one of our most exciting is a 276-unit garden-style multifamily development in Orlando, FL, where the geothermal technology system is uniquely designed to tap into the Floridan Aquifer to exchange heat with the subsurface body of water that continuously moves underground across the state of Florida. In addition to EcoSmart’s GeoGrid, the entire suite of energy-efficient technologies across the complex will include geothermal heat pumps, Solar PV systems, EV charging, and advanced energy monitoring tools, resulting in an energy resilient and sustainable community.

Where the Orlando apartment taps into the Florida Aquifer and Whisper Valley taps into the earth’s crust, our Millican Reserve community in College Station, TX, uses the community’s lake to heat and cool buildings across the 2,500-acre community, where we expect to see major milestones as we launch Phase 1 of the build.