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BOISE -- After nearly three decades of planning, Boise State University is now connected to the city's geothermal heating system.

City, state, and campus leaders officially 'turned on' the system Friday morning. Funding for the system largely came from the United States Dept. of Energy, and the the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

Boise Mayor David Bieter, Boise State President Bob Kustra, and officials from US Representative Mike Simpson and US Senator Mike Crapo's offices took part in a ceremony. The ceremony was held outside the new Micron Business and Economics Building on the BSU campus.

Nine BSU campus buildings are now heated by geothermal energy, representing about 600,000 square feet of space. The heat is created by hot water pumped from underground near the St. Lukes Hospital complex. Once pumped, the roughly 170-degree water is then piped to the BSU campus via a system that runs underneath the Capitol Boulevard Bridge.

Buildings heated by the new system include: the BSU Administration Building, Student Union Building, Environmental Research Building, Morrison Center, Multipurpose Class Room, Interactive Learning Center, the Math and Geosciences Building, and the Micron Business and Economics Building.

According to BSU, extending geothermal service across the river to Boise State has been a primary goal since the city's system began operating in 1983.

Mayor Dave Bieter said the project was completed through a unique partnership between city, state, and campus officials.

It's wonderful to see the expansion of Boise's geothermal system, one of our city's greatest natural assets, Mayor Bieter said. By extending this clean and efficient form of energy across the river, we are helping Boise State become more sustainable, lowering its energy costs, and making this rare amenity available to more private businesses. This project could not have been done without the partnership between the City, Boise State, and our congressional delegation, and it demonstrates the kind of success that can be achieved by working together toward a common goal.

Boise State President Bob Kustra said the project matched the university's commitment to innovative solutions, environmental stewardship and economic judiciousness.

We are excited to be part of the expanded service network across the Boise River, Kustra said. The presence of geothermal will reduce our energy costs as well as provide hands-on research opportunities for our students and faculty in clean energy development.

Friday's ceremony was just the first phase of the BSU geothermal project. Crews are expected to extend the pipeline further down University Drive next summer. The final phase of the project will be completed in 2015.

The City of Boise has operated a geothermal heating system since 1983. The system serves 81 buildings, and circulates more than 220 million gallons of water through approximately 13 miles of pipeline.

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