Installation of the geothermal heating and cooling system at our Wainfleet facility was core to fulfilling our first value: sustainable operations.  

This week, we activated the system. We’ve been planning, building and testing the system since 2021. We’re thrilled to finally see it up and running – even if it is after the end of Canadian winter!

What is Geothermal?

Geothermal heating is often referred to as a ground source heat pump system. This technology uses the earth’s natural energy to heat and cool a building. 

A geothermal system transfers heat from the ground into the facility. Transferring heat requires less energy than producing heat with fossil fuels.

Ground Source Heat Pump Heating Mode

Why Does it Matter?

We purpose-built our facility to optimize the environmental and financial costs of heating and cooling.

For industrial facilities like ours, a geothermal heat pump dramatically offsets heating and cooling costs. That means it costs less to grow and process our mushroom powders, and we can pass those cost savings onto our customers. 

A geothermal-powered facility doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. Instead, it uses electricity to power pumps that draw heat out of the earth and circulate that heat into the facility. Geothermal systems are generally 3-4 times more efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems

By 2024, we will have enough solar panels to provide the electricity to power the heat pumps. That means our facility will be almost self-sufficient. 

This is a much more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way to operate than traditionally heating/cooling. It’s truly a win-win scenario for our customers and our team.

Less Energy Required, with Bigger Upfront Investment

Installing the geothermal system does require a significant initial investment and requires a very intense installation. Choosing this option is not for the faint of heart! 

Cost of Geothermal System Installation

The upfront costs associated with installing a geothermal system can be pretty steep. It requires purchasing of speciality equipment, creating the infrastructure, and finding an expert crew to set up the system. 

We like to think of the cost of installing a geothermal system as pre-purchasing energy. So instead of paying an electricity bill or gas bill every month, we’ve paid for our heating and cooling costs during the construction phase of the project.

Land Required for Geothermal Loops

In most settings, the sheer size of the geothermal field required to meet a facility’s needs presents a dilemma. There simply isn’t enough space to install the right amount of horizontal piping for the size of the facility. 

The geothermal field at Myzel takes up about 3 acres. It consists of twenty-four 300 foot trenches. Each trench contains two 600 foot loops. That’s how much space it takes to draw enough energy from the ground to heat and cool a 38,000 square foot facility. 

We chose our Wainfleet, Ontario site for the 25 workable acres outside the existing barns. We had plenty of space to grow, plus lots of space to install the horizontal geothermal loops.

Before ExcavationAfter Excavation

How Does a Geothermal System Work?

A geothermal system captures and converts that heat naturally stored in the earth by the sun for use in a building. 

Step 1: Gather Heat From the Geothermal Field

To capture heat, liquid circulates through a pipe buried in the ground. (That’s what we call the geothermal field). As the liquid circulates, it absorbs the earth’s stored heat – which remains constant at 10-15 degrees Centigrade at five feet below ground level.

Step 2: Transfer Heat to Heat Pump

The heated liquid (a mixture of water and glycol)  is transferred to a heat pump that transfers the heat from the liquid to a refrigerant. This refrigerant evaporates when compressed, raising the temperature to 38 degrees Centigrade. (That’s pretty hot!)

Step 3a: Winter – Heat Moved into Facility

The refrigerant then passes through a heat exchanger as a gas, and the heat is transferred to the glycol-water solution and pumped into the facility. With the heat removed from the refrigerant, the refrigerant cools and returns to a liquid for recirculation within the heat pump. The entire system is a closed loop system allowing for either warm or cool glycol solutions to provide heating and / or cooling as needed. In our case, because we are heating and cooling simultaneously, our system is even more efficient as there are times where we do not need to circulate the glycol back out into the ground loop but can manage the heat distribution within the internal heat pumps.

Step 3b: Summer Heat Moved Out of Facility

In the summer, the geothermal system extracts hot air from the facility and deposits it into the earth outside the facility. The heat extracted in the summer months will increase the efficiency of the ground source heat pump in winter months.

Dedication to Energy Efficiency

A geothermal system is much more efficient than a traditional heating/cooling system. Our geothermal system is expected to deliver up to 400 percent more efficiency compared with a traditional furnace.

We’ll regularly measure our progress and energy savings as part of our mission to achieve Net Zero certification by 2024.

We also undertook very careful building standards to ensure we weren’t leaking heat or cool air from our facility. Since we were retrofitting a former poultry barn, we knew the focus wasn’t on creating an air-tight facility. In fact, poultry operations require a lot of air circulation. So we tore the building down to the studs, and rebuilt a system that sealed all leaks and eliminated drafts.

Man applying pressure gauge to geothermal heating tubes

The Inspiration for Our Facility 

More than 20-years ago, Myzel’s co-founder discovered the power of sustainable structures. Not only did he construct his own home using sustainable sources, but he also changed the way he built residential facilities. 

Lessons from Achieving LEED Certification

He commissioned a LEED(R) Platinum certified building that relied on saving energy and the use of renewable energy sources. The LEED(R) building, a highrise student residence building, was the 8th building in Canada to achieve the highest level of LEED certification and still one of the largest to have achieved the Platinum designation. Quite an accomplishment, in our opinion.

With that experience in hand, our team dreamed big. We planned a facility that would make the operation energy self-sufficient by 2024. The farm will rely on a combination of geothermal energy, solar power, and natural gas to meet its energy needs.

The Heat is On: Myzel’s Geothermal System is Up and Running

Geothermal power is one Myzel’s key differentiators. 

By relying on the heat produced naturally by the ground around our facility, we reduce our operating costs and our environmental footprint. Lower operating costs = lower product costs. It’s a feel-good situation with a tangible benefit. 

Geothermal Benefits

  • Sustainability
  • Reliable source of heat and cooling
  • Significant long term value
  • Dramatically lower energy costs
  • Lower costs for our customers