The 3 Types of Closed Loop Geothermal Energy Systems

At Applied Resource Management, we’re big fans of geothermal energy. What’s not to like? Compared to air source heat pumps, geothermal is efficient, easier to maintain, and less expensive in the long run, to name just a few benefits.

By now, you’re probably sold on geothermal. “Sign me up!” you say. Before you can contact Applied Resource Management and schedule an installation, there’s one more thing you must consider. Do you want a closed loop system, or an open loop system? While both have benefits, there will be one system that is right for you depending on your home’s size, location, insulation type, and other factors. Today, we’re going to discuss closed loop systems in more detail—if you’re interested in open loop systems, stay tuned for a future post!

In a closed loop system, underground piping loops circulate fluid out of the ground and then back through the heat pump in a continuous loop. These systems are installed in three different ways:

Vertical Closed Loop System

The most common kind of closed loop system is installed vertically, as this requires less space. Closed loop systems provide more control over the amount of water used and require less maintenance. These are often used by large commercial buildings and schools, since the land in these locations is often more expensive. Vertical closed loop systems are also a great choice

Horizontal Closed Loop Systems

This type of installation is generally most cost-effective for residential installations, particularly for new construction where sufficient land is available. It requires trenches at least four feet deep.

Pond/Lake Closed Loop Systems

This option is the most affordable, but it comes with a catch—you have to have an adequate body of water in order to install it. In this closed loop system, a supply line pipe is run underground from the building to the water and coiled into circles eight feed under the surface, which is deep enough to prevent freezing.

How to Get a Closed Loop System

A drilling contractor, such as those employed at Applied Resource Management, can install whichever style of closed loop system is the best fit for your home. If you’re interested in this environmentally friendly and cost-effective heating and cooling system, contact us today to get started!

benefits of irrigation well

How to Save Money with an Irrigation Well

If you’re looking for ways to save money on the high cost of city water, an irrigation well could be the answer. Below are three different situations in which an irrigation well is the smartest choice for your home and your wallet.

Savings for Beachside Communities

In southeastern North Carolina, many people enjoy beautiful houses on the coast. While the benefits of living near the ocean are plentiful—surf, sand, and sun, to name just a few—the wind and sandy soil can dry out your land, turning your lawn brown and making your shrubs and gardens wither. It requires a lot of water to offset this, which can add up quickly—unless you have an irrigation well.

An irrigation well, while more expensive upfront, will usually pay for itself within three years. And the lower water bill you enjoy each month will make the investment worth it! Go ahead, turn on the sprinkler and enjoy a lush, green lawn—you’ve earned it.

Savings for Swimming Pool Owners

A swimming pool in your backyard is the ultimate luxury. No battling for parking spots at the beach, clean and comfortable bathrooms a few feet away, all the snacks and drinks you could want, and endless pool parties all summer long. The only downside of owning a pool? Filling it every year. The average in-ground backyard pool holds between 18,000 and 20,000 gallons of water, and a professional pool water delivery service will cost around $400.

A great way to save money on refilling your swimming pool is using well water. This low-cost option provides clean, all-natural water for your pool every single year at no extra cost. If you own a swimming pool, it’s an option you should definitely consider!

Savings for Large and Small Scale Farms

An irrigation well is a dependable source of water, which is vital to a successful farming operation. Groundwater is the most—nay, the only—truly dependable water source in America.

Irrigation can increase crop yield by 20-65% in an average year depending on what you grow, and it’s incredibly beneficial in times of drought. A good irrigation well can also last for generations, so not only will you reap the rewards of this smart investment, but your children and their children will also sing your praises as they keep their crops healthy and thriving.

Applied Resource Management has the tools, the staff, and the experience to get you the water you need at a price you can afford. If this article has convinced you that an irrigation well is the way to go, contact us today to discuss how you can get started.

Storage tank sampling

Sampling an Underground Storage Tank: What You Need to Know

If you own a property with an underground storage tank, then you’re probably familiar with testing and assessing the health and reliability of your tank. While most people know this is a process that has to be completed, that tends to be where their knowledge ends—they don’t always understand the nuts and bolts. Today, we’re going to solve that problem by answering some common questions our clients have about their underground storage tanks. If you have one on your property, this is one article you won’t want to skip!

When should an underground storage tank be tested?

Underground storage tanks are tested in order to find or diagnose a problem or issue. Tanks are usually tested at a few key times, such as the anniversary of an installation, a change in ownership, or if it seems like there might be a leak due to a breakdown in equipment or the fact that fuel can be seen or smelled. Chances are, if you suspect your storage tank needs to be tested, it probably does!

Who can collect samples from an underground water tank?

In order to ensure the proper procedure is followed, samples must be collected by an environmental professional, such as the ones who work at Applied Resource Management. This is the best and only way to guarantee that the person completing this important work understands soil sampling requirements, laboratory tests, and next steps should the samples reveal that the tank is contaminated. (If you need a site assessment that includes sampling, do yourself a favor and contact Applied Resource Management today.)

What are these professionals looking for?

As with most things, it depends on the situation. If the tank was used to store gasoline, samples collected at the site will be tested for benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, and xylene, among other things. Oil storage tanks can also be tested for water in the tank, which can be caused by roof spillage, condensation, or a bad oil delivery. If water is found, it needs to be pumped out to ensure the tank continues to operate safely and effectively.

How are samples collected?

Samples must be accurate, and they are generally taken from freshly exposed soil at a few key locations. Generally, a site assessment and sampling is completed during tank removal or from a soil boring. Samples have to be collected using bottles provided by the laboratory (no plastic baggies or Tupperware allowed!) and they must be labeled clearly with identifying information, such as date, time, and location. It’s also important to take each sample from a single location, rather than soil from all over the property. This is the only way to ensure that the results are an accurate and fair representation of contamination levels.

What parameters are required for the samples?

During a site assessment, samples are taken from the underground storage tank at the places where a leak or release is most likely to occur. The amount of samples will depend on the type of storage tank you have and where it’s located.

  • If you have a single tank, we will generally need two samples, taken from each end of the tank. The samples should be taken one to two feet below the floor of the excavation and above the water table.
  • If you have more than one underground storage tank that holds less than 10,000 gallons, we’ll need to take one sample per tank. The sample will be taken from under the center of each tank, and from a depth of one to two feet below the floor of the excavation ad above the water table.
  • If you have more than underground storage tank that holds more than 10,000 gallons, two samples will need to be taken from the end of each tank. The sample will also be taken from under the center of each tank, and from a depth of one to two feet below the floor of the excavation ad above the water table.

If you have an underground storage tank that needs to be tested, your next step is clear: contact Applied Resource Management today, and rest easy knowing the job will be done right.

protext wetlands on your property

5 Ways to Protect Wetlands on Your Property

At Applied Resource Management, one of our areas of expertise is wetlands delineation. This is process during which we determine whether and where wetlands are located on a property and, if the answer is “yes,” make recommendations about how to continue with your project in a safe and environmentally responsible way. (Curious about what wetlands are and why they’re important? You’re in luck—we covered this in a previous blog post!)

If you have wetlands on your property, it’s important not to view them as a problem. In reality, your wetlands are an opportunity to help preserve the fragile ecosystems that support certain plants and animals. Below are five ways to help your wetlands survive and thrive, and to become a steward of the environment in the process.

1. Maintain a buffer strip of native plants along streams and wetlands.

A buffer will stabilize the streambank, prevent erosion, and improve the health of the wetlands. Native plants are also more resistant to disease, which means you don’t need to use pesticides or fertilizers to help them thrive—in general, they have everything they need!

2. Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly.
Speaking of lawn care aids, try to avoid them whenever possible. The chemicals these products contain can harm wildlife and aquatic life, and negatively impact water quality, especially downstream. If you have pest problem, opt for natural products such as soap or plant-based insecticides. You can also mulch using lawn clippings and leaves instead of fertilizer. Not only are they better for your wetlands, they’re also free!

3. Avoid non-native and invasive species of plants.
Non-native plants have had a devastating effect on wetlands worldwide. The can quickly become invasive, choking out the native species and altering the way the wetlands function. If you see non-native plants moving in, remove them immediately. And if you’re thinking about planting something exotic because it looks cool, don’t. There are plenty of beautiful native species to celebrate and embrace—nurture those instead, and enjoy a healthier environment as a bonus.

4. Avoid stormwater run-off and don’t pollute.

Wetlands need plenty of water to thrive, and much of that is supplied by stormwater—especially in urban areas. If you live near or on wetlands, your stormwater feeds into it. This is why it’s so important to keep stormwater clean, not just for the wetlands on your property, but for any wetlands that might be located downstream from where you live or work. Basically, if you wouldn’t want to swim in it, then don’t throw it down a storm drain!

5. Keep your pets under control.

We love animals and understand that dogs and cats are more than just pets—for many of us, they’re a part of our families. That said, animals can wreak havoc on wetlands and the wildlife populations that live there. The only way to keep all lives—animals and otherwise—safe is to make sure dogs and cats don’t have access to your wetlands. Keep dogs leashed or fenced in, and make sure your cats stay indoors as much as possible. Your wetlands will thank you!

We hope these tips help you keep your wetlands safe, happy, and healthy! If you’re not sure if you have wetlands on your property or don’t know how to best take care of them, contact Applied Resource Management today. Our experts will help you go green and stay that way!

Hardful effects of flooded underground storage tanks

Underground Storage Tanks: Before and After a Flood

Underground storage tanks can pose a grave risk to the soil and groundwater of a property. When they fall into disrepair, they can be considered an environmental liability, especially if they’ve been used to store gasoline, diesel fuel kerosene, or heating oil. Rusted or leaky underground storage tanks as well as abandoned or undocumented tanks must be removed in order to protect homeowners as well as the land they live on.

Applied Resource Management is skilled and experienced when it comes to removing underground storage tanks. Other times, an underground storage tank is still in use. If this is the case at your home, then your UST requires the protection in case of certain situations. One of these situations is flooding.

As we’ve seen in many cities in the eastern United States, including the most recent disaster in Louisiana, the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2011, and the heavy rains that fall here in North Carolina, flooding is a real concern, especially if you have an underground storage tank.

There are a few things you can do to protect your home, property, and environment from a flooded underground storage tank, before and after the water hits. By following the tips below and working with an experienced environmental professional, you can ensure that your underground storage tank is not a liability.

Before the Flood

A flood can cause an underground storage tank to become filled with water and contaminate the area around it. To prevent this, there are a number of things you should do:

  • Measure the water level reading of your tank and take product inventory, so you will be aware of any sudden changes.
  • Fill the tank to weigh it down and keep it from floating out of the ground.
  • Secure all openings and make sure your fill caps are tightened and locked.
  • Make sure the seal on your spill bucket plungers are operational and temporarily cap off the vent pipes. This will keep water from entering the tank.
  • Place sand bags or rocks over the tank to keep it from floating out of the ground.

After the Flood

Once the flood has passed, it’s important to check all aspects of your UST to ensure that no damage was done and all your preparations paid off. This should include the following:

  • First, make sure the power is turned off to protect yourself. Then check to see if anything leaked out of the UST and if any water or debris entered it.
  • Turn the power back on and check to see that the release detection system works.
  • Check and test all equipment, including pumps, shear valves, fill pipes, and vent lines.
  • Clean and empty the spill buckets and sumps and make sure they’re still tight.

We hope these tips help you keep your underground storage tanks safe and secure no matter what the weather does. If you need help forming a plan for your UST, fixing your UST after a flood, or removing an old UST you’re no longer using, contact Applied Resource Management today. We look forward to finding the solution that’s right for you.

Ways to Prevent the Zika Virus

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Zika Virus

At Applied Resource Management, we pay close attention to various topics and problems that concern the environment. While most of our services relate to energy, soil studies, and well drilling, our interests don’t begin and end there. We’re also concerned with things that threaten our world, and lately that includes the Zika virus.

For the last few months, people all over the world have been worried about Zika. Zika is a virus that is spread through the bite of an infected species of mosquito. Unlike the mosquitos we’re used to, this species bites in the daytime and is much more aggressive than others. While the Zika virus itself isn’t deadly—in most cases, it causes only mild symptoms, such as fever, rash, joint pain, and headache—it can have dire consequences for pregnant women, causing severe birth defects. Another problem with Zika is that in addition to catching it from a mosquito bite, it can also be sexually transmitted. This puts both men and women at risk.

While there have not yet been any cases of Zika contracted in North Carolina, there have been a number in Florida and South America. People who travel to these areas are also at risk of contracting it and bringing it home with them.

There are currently no vaccines or medicines for Zika, and the long term effects have yet to be studied. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is protect ourselves from contracting the virus. Below are a few tips that will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

  1. Get rid of standing water. Mosquitos reproduce in standing water, so don’t let water accumulate in your yard or on your property. Each week, empty or get rid of cans, buckets, plant saucers, wheel barrows, and anything else that might be holding water. If you have an unused well on your property, it’s a great idea to have it properly sealed by an environmental professional such as Applied Resource Management, as it will quickly become a breeding ground for insects.
  2. Cover exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts and pants. In the hot summer months, it’s natural to wear shorts and tank tops. While these outfits will keep you cool, they won’t protect you from mosquito bites. Whenever possible, keep your skin covered. The best defense is a good offense!
  3. Use EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET. When it comes to protecting our health, we sometimes have to make certain compromises. One of those is the use of DEET. While all-natural repellents have their place, a potential Zika outbreak isn’t one of them.
  4. Stay in places with AC and window screens to keep mosquitos out. This suggestion may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating. If you have an outdoor porch you love, the threat of mosquito bites is a great excuse to screen it in and protect yourself from unwelcome guests. 
  5.  If you are currently or plan to become pregnant, avoid traveling to areas experiencing a Zika outbreak. While anyone can contract Zika, women of child-bearing age are at the greatest risk, due to the high likelihood of birth defects caused by the virus. If you or someone you love falls into this category, the solution is drastic but clear: don’t travel to areas in the midst of an outbreak. While a vacation to Brazil or Florida sounds nice, it’s simply not worth the risk right now.

If you think you have Zika, see your healthcare provider or doctor immediately to make sure you protect yourself and others from this virus. If you want to protect yourself against Zika and mosquitos in general through clean water and a sealed well, contact Applied Resource Management today.

How to seal and unused water well

How to Seal an Unused Well

When it comes to well drilling, Applied Resource Management offers both commercial and residential services, which includes many different things, depending on the client’s needs.

One of our services is helping our clients deal with wells they no longer want or need. If you no longer need your well, it’s not as simple as walking away. In order provide long-term protection to the surrounding environment, a well cannot be just filled with cement. Instead, it must be professionally sealed and abandoned.

The Danger of an Abandoned Well

An unused well poses a great threat to groundwater. It provides a direct route for pollutants to reach the underground water supply, and the only way to halt this flow is to properly seal the well. There are also other dangers associated with an unused well—children and small animals could fall into it, accidents can occur when lawn equipment or cars are driven over it, and there can be legal issues at stake if it’s found that your well has contaminated the quality of your neighborhood’s water.

To ensure that your well is sealed properly and effectively, it’s wise to hire a licensed groundwater professional to get the job done, such as the ones who work at Applied Resource Management.

How to Seal a Well

There are many steps to properly sealing a well, and each project will vary slightly based on the unique situation. Below are the basic steps that we take when approaching a project of this kind, which should give you an idea of the complexity of the process.

  1. We begin by contacting the local health department to obtain a water well abandonment permit. We then complete the permit, which includes a description of our methods and the materials and equipment we plan to use. The permit is then submitted to the local health department for approval.
  2. Once the permit has been approved, we can begin the sealing process. The first step is to remove all material from the water well, such as the pump, pipe, pump cylinder, and electric cable.
  3. Next, we measure the depth and diameter of the well and the static water level, which is the distance from the soil surface to the level of non-pumping water in the well. We also check to see if there are any foreign materials at the bottom of the well. If so, we try to remove these before we begin sealing.
  4. Once the well is clean and empty, we disinfect the well, following the guidelines laid out in the North Carolina Well Construction Act and as outlined in the permit that was submitted to and approved by the local health department.
  5. Our last step is to complete a Well Abandonment Record that outlines the work completed, which we submit to the local health department and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. This is the record for your well’s successful sealing, and proves that you—and Applied Resource Management—has completed the process in a safe and legal manner.

We hope this article sheds some light on the process of abandoning a well. If you have an unused well on your property and want to seal it, contact Applied Resource Management today. Together, we’ll make sure the job is “well” done.

Benefits of geothermal energy

Case Study: A Geothermal Energy Bill 

If you’re an energy-conscious homeowner, you’re probably at least interested in geothermal energy. That’s because a groundwater geothermal system uses the constant temperature of the ground to heat and cool the home. It’s good for the environment and cheaper in the long run, making it an excellent choice for many families and homes.

We know what you’re thinking. “Sure, Applied Resource Management says that geothermal energy is better for my home. But can they prove it?” Today, we’re going to do exactly that with the help of a case study.

A Geothermal Home in Hampstead, NC

To prove our point, we’ll use the example of a project we completed a few years ago in Hampstead, NC. This home is located in coastal North Carolina, where summer temps are sweltering and winters tend to be fairly mild. At 3,500 square feet, this single home is considered large by most standards. It includes four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a formal dining room, a breakfast nook, and a large, open kitchen.

Shortly after moving into the house, the homeowners realized that their previous system for heating and cooling—a forced air furnace and hot water tank—was very expensive. Not only that, they also had to constantly adjust the temperature manually, as it was difficult to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the house. Too often, the lower floors—especially the kitchen—would be uncomfortably hot, while the upstairs bedrooms were cool and drafty.

Trying Something New

The homeowners had read about geothermal energy and were interested in it. Now that they owned a home that needed a change, it seemed like the perfect time to try this system out for themselves. They were drawn to geothermal for environmental reasons, but they were excited about the prospect of bringing down their monthly energy bill as well. They knew a project of this scale required the skill and expertise of an experienced environmental company, and contacted Applied Resource Management to get the job done.

The Results

ARM completed installation a few years ago, and in that time the homeowners have enjoyed and appreciated the changes to their home. Temperature is now consistent throughout the home and no one has to adjust the thermostat in order to feel comfortable. They are happy to know their decision is better for the environment and the land their home stands on. And—best of all—their energy bill is much lower than it was previously. For this 3,500 square foot home, their electric bill is an average of $118 per month, saving them hundreds of dollars now, and thousands of dollars in the future.

If you’d like to enjoy these benefits in your own home, contact Applied Resource Management and learn more about what we can do for you.

What is a brownfield

Brownfields: What You Need to Know

A dilapidated dry cleaning facility that shut its doors a decade ago. An abandoned gas station on the side of the highway. A vacant lot that’s been used as a dumping ground for the last five years. Not only are these types of properties eyesores, they also post an environmental threat to the land they stand on and to the people who live near them. You’ve probably noticed them in your own cities or neighborhoods, and wondering why someone hasn’t done something about them. The truth is that cleaning up these situations, especially when they’ve been neglected for so long, isn’t as easy as it seems.

What is a brownfield?

A brownfield is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

Brownfield sites can and do include idle, underused, or abandoned properties where the threat of an environmental impact has hindered redevelopment. If property was used by a business or for a purpose that produced high levels of contaminants during its operations, then it’s likely that it’s now considered a brownfield. In fact, the EPA reports that there are over half a million identified brownfields in the United States. The number of undocumented brownfields is likely much higher.

Why are brownfields a problem?

As you can probably guess, the existence of brownfields—especially in such high numbers—is an ongoing problem for federal, state, and local governments, as well as many businesses and industries. Unused property doesn’t help the economy, and contaminated lands are a drain on our environmental health. Not to mention the fact that a brownfield is a blemish on a community, one that will eventually lower property values.

We know what you’re thinking. “Just clean up the brownfields! Problem solved!” Unfortunately, this solution isn’t as cut and dried as one might hope. The problem is that the cost of cleaning these sites is often very high. For many businesses who are interested in buying the land and rehabilitating it, the cost of remediation makes this option financially infeasible.

And yet the benefits of remediating brownfields and putting the land to good use goes far beyond monetary value. Reclaiming these properties creates jobs, expands the tax base, and revitalizes the local economy. This is precisely why state and federal governments have evolved programs to assist developers interested in cleaning up these sites.

How can Applied Resource Management help?  

The North Carolina Brownfields Program is North Carolina’s effort to help in the redevelopment of the brownfield properties. This statute, known as the Brownfield Property Reuse Act, treats developers differently from the parties who contaminated the property in the first place. It allows developers to negotiate an agreement with the program that defines activities needed to make the site suitable for reuse, rather than cleaning it to regulation standards, as the responsible parties are required to do. This means that developers can now afford the cost of fixing up and using the land.

If you’re a developer interested in a property that is or might be a brownfield, the first step is determining if contaminants are present on the property. This means you’ll need an environmental site assessment, which is where Applied Resource Management comes in. Our environmental professionals help in the redevelopment of properties by completing a Brownfields Assessment and Receptor Survey. Contact us today to get started!

Environmental Assessment Reports

Environmental Assessment Reports: What to Expect 

When it comes to construction and development, it’s important to ensure your project is done in a safe and responsible way, which includes the effects your project might have on the environment. It’s the reason an Environmental Assessment Report is legally required before your project begins, and why conducting these reports is one of Applied Resource Management’s specialties.

An Environmental Assessment Report is an integral part of any proposed development project, as it investigates and outlines the likely effects a project will have on the environment. If those effects are deemed harmful, unacceptable, or illegal, then the project will have to be altered or adapted in order to lessen these effects.

There are many situations in which an Environmental Assessment Report may be required. These can include the purchase of a new-to-you property, the ability to get a loan on a piece of real estate, changing how the land is zoned, or if toxic conditions are suspected. In these cases, an Environmental Assessment Report will most likely be required and should be undertaken immediately in order to keep your project on schedule.

Environmental Assessment Reports are completed in one or two phases, depending on your results.

Phase I Site Assessments

The first phase of a site assessment is an economical study. This incorporates a professional property inspection with interviews, a regulatory list review, record searches, and historical aerial photograph research. During this phase, environmental professionals will be on the lookout for concerns such as asbestos, contaminant source areas, lead-based paint, mold, wetlands, threats to endangered species, and earthquake hazards, among other things. At this point, no sampling of soil, air, groundwater, or building materials is required. This phase is simply the first step and is considered part of your environmental due diligence. That said, Phase I Site Assessments are held to standards established by the EPA, which Applied Resource Management carefully follows.

Phase II Site Assessments

If potential contaminant impacts on the subject property are found during the Phase I Site Assessment, you’ll need to conduct a Phase II Site Assessment. In this stage, ARM will prepare a work plan to remediate the areas of concern found on the subject site. Depending on the situation and what was revealed during Phase I, this may include soil and groundwater testing, UST removal, AST removal and/or soil removal. Phase II is considered an “intrusive” investigation to determine the level of risk and what must be done to ameliorate it.

Once an Environmental Site Assessment is complete, a work plan has been created, and any and all issues have been remediated, development can finally begin. All these steps may seem like a lot, but when you have the help of experienced environmental professionals such as Applied Resource Management on your side, the process becomes a lot simpler. If you’re about to start development on a project, contact ARM today and we’ll ensure the number one thing you find during the process is peace of mind.