Saturday, October 09, 2010
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Contract awarded for Lincoln Tomb geothermal project

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[October 09, 2010]  SPRINGFIELD -- Soon, the grass won't be the only thing that's "green" at Abraham Lincoln's final resting place.

InsuranceThe Capital Development Board has awarded a contract to install a geothermal heating and cooling system at the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery. The successful bidder is Henson Robinson Co. of Springfield, the lower of two bidders with a quote of $376,000. The Illinois Jobs Now project should start by the end of October and be complete by late spring 2011.

Geothermal, or geo-exchange, technology will be used to replace the existing heating and cooling systems at Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery, a move that will reduce energy usage, improve efficiency, protect the historic tomb finishes and increase comfort for nearly 375,000 people from around the world who visit the 16th president's final resting place each year.

"The Lincoln Tomb geothermal project is the first such installation on a state historic site and will significantly reduce the tomb's energy usage, making the state historic site better for those who work in it and the area surrounding it," said Jim Riemer, executive director of the Capital Development Board.

Geothermal is ground-source energy that takes advantage of the constant year-round underground temperature of about 55 degrees F. At Lincoln Tomb, vertical pipe loops will be buried about 300 feet underground and an antifreeze liquid pumped through the pipes. In the summer, the liquid will move heat from the building into the ground. In the winter, it will do the opposite. Heat pumps will be used at Lincoln Tomb to facilitate the heating and cooling transfer within the building.

The pipes and wells for the geothermal system at Lincoln Tomb will be installed underneath the tomb lawn. Once the infrastructure is installed, the grass will be replaced and visitors will have the same sweeping vista of Lincoln Tomb as they have since the structure was built in 1874.

No estimates are available about the projected energy savings the tomb will experience with the geothermal system.

The current heating and air conditioning system at Lincoln Tomb is a water-source heat pump system that was last upgraded in the early 1990s but is now past its expected life span. Utility, maintenance and repair costs for a system of this age continue to increase. The existing cooling tower, located within an unsightly fenced enclosure northwest of the tomb, will be removed once the geothermal system is installed.

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"Oak Ridge Cemetery is surpassed only by Arlington National Cemetery as the nation's most visited burial ground, and this new climate control system in our 16th president's final resting place will allow the tomb to keep welcoming visitors from every part of the globe," said Jan Grimes, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which administers Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site.

The Lincoln Tomb project has also earned a $25,000 energy-efficiency grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to assist in the conversion from a traditional to an energy-saving geo-exchange system. The foundation has supported more than 65 geothermal installations across Illinois through its grants. For more information, visit

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln; his wife, Mary; and three of his four sons -- Eddie, William "Willie" and Thomas "Tad." It was built entirely with public donations and was completed in 1874.

[Text from Capital Development Board file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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