Thermal Energy Networks Team

*NEW:  See the new toolkit: How to Develop a Thermal Network.


This team is building a coalition to accelerate the development of Thermal Energy Networks in Vermont.

To optimize the potential of one of the cleanest, most efficient heating and cooling systems, our team is analyzing approaches and sharing information about how Thermal Energy Networks can become available to more Vermonters, support affordable housing, and help meet our state mandated climate goals.

Thermal Energy Networks are a promising solution for decarbonizing Vermont’s thermal sector. These systems use ground source heat pumps and underground pipes to move heat and balance thermal energy among buildings. The loops can include shallow geothermal boreholes to access the ambient temperature of the earth and can harness waste heat from large buildings, refrigeration, industrial processes, and wastewater.

Thermal Energy Networks have dramatically lower emissions than other systems, provide safe, healthy, affordable renewable energy to many homes and businesses at once, and can offer steady, predictable rates, protecting customers from volatile fuel prices. These underground networks not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, but also create resilience, minimal land impacts, and comparable jobs for current fossil fuel workers. Systems are designed to exchange and balance temperatures between buildings, minimizing drilling, shaving peak demands on the electric grid, and maximizing affordability. Combining geothermal with other thermal resources that would otherwise be wasted makes thermal networks an even stronger solution for efficient long-term energy infrastructure.

Towns, developers, and businesses can begin by installing a ground source heat pump system for a large municipal building or creating a small thermal exchange system—such as a loop between a large grocery store and an apartment building—then grow the network from there. The more buildings or neighborhoods are linked to the network, the more affordable and efficient it becomes, offering an equitable way to transition off of fossil fuels and other polluting heating sources.

While the technologies involved are tried and true, few people have heard of Thermal Energy Networks. We know they work, as they have been operational on college campuses and in different geographies for years. As government, industry, and businesses move to scale them nationally, our task is to implement them strategically and equitably in our state.

With Vermont Community Thermal Networks, this team is engaging a wide range of technical and financial experts, state and local leaders, community representatives, and national resources to inform decision-makers and develop projects. We are working to enable a more rapid implementation of Thermal Energy Networks by addressing known financial, ownership, and workforce barriers as well as creating the understanding and support needed to help this much-needed solution succeed at scale in Vermont.

To further this work, our team has created a toolkit: How to Develop a Thermal Network.
This online suite of resources can support Vermont communities and businesses in pursuing a local Thermal Energy Network from where to start to:

  • The advantages and challenges of possible ownership or business models
  • Related financing opportunities
  • Site selection criteria and project phasing recommendations

To learn more about Thermal Energy Networks, visit You can also sign up to get updates and learning opportunities from Vermont Community Thermal Networks.

Thermal Network Team Partners

  • Vermonters with expertise in regional planning, town energy committees, engineering, and environmental law.

  • Representatives from Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, Efficiency Vermont, VEIC, Vermont Economic Development Authority, Vermont Bond Bank, Vermont Community Networks, Energy Action Network, VGS, and others.

Pitch and Q&A from EAN 2022 Summit 

Pitch presented by

  • Debbie New, Same Planet
  • Dorie Seavey, Energy Policy Research Economist
  • Matt Burke, UVM Community Development and Applied Economics & Gund Institute
  • Dan Costin, Vermont Technical College
  • Liz Medina, Vermont AFL-CIO
  • Jim Dumont, Esq.
  • Richard Donnelly, VGS
  • Jake Marin, VEIC

Note: Network Action Team projects were selected by the Network membership through a competitive process at the EAN annual summit.  Although Network members may support specific policy actions as part of their work on these Action Teams, EAN staff serve in the role of neutral convener and refrain from advocating for specific policies.