The first thought many have when considering the payback of a GCHP system is: "how much extra the system will cost compared to a conventional HVAC system" divided by "how much the system will save in energy costs". But there are often other things that should be considered when thinking about the payback of a system.
Tenants in commercial and apartment buildings are willing to pay a little more for a "green building" to demonstrate their concern about the environment. Building owners and developers have and are marketing the energy efficiency of the buildings they own and rent.
More and more companies are demonstrating their concern about the environment by reducing energy consumption. IKEA has built over 30 stores worldwide using GCHP technology. Walmart (http://cdn.corporate.walmart.com/eb/80/4c32210b44ccbae634ddedd18a27/walmarts-approach-to-renewable-energy.pdf) and Walgreens (http://www.metroplanning.org/news/blog-post/6754) have both built stores employing GCHP technology.
Investment firms are financing the installation of GCHP systems. Earth Point Solutions (http://www.earthpointsolutions.com/). The Town of Gibsons, BC is developing a geothermal utility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a revenue source for the community.
People (and animals) are more productive when they are comfortable. Reports by the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Toronto School Board and an article in the Financial Post all point to reduced absenteeism, greater occupant satisfaction and higher performance in the work they do when they work in a building with a better environment. It's been proven that dairy cattle produce more milk when they are provided with better living conditions and warm water to drink. Waste heat is easily recovered using a GCHP system to cool milk and produce warm water.
Water usage is a significant concern in some areas. Evaporative fluid coolers and cooling towers use large amounts of water to dissipate heat fro air conditioning and refrigeration to the atmosphere. Rejecting heat to a GHX eliminates or greatly reduces the use of water for cooling. Additional benefits include a large reduction in maintenance and chemical treatment of water used in cooling towers and the elimination of a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria.
In my blog I'll be expressing my opinions about what I've the learned about ground coupled heat pump (GCHP) systems over the last 30 years. I've been very fortunate to work with many interesting people who are passionate about this technology...engineers, geologists, mechanical contractors, drillers, excavation contractors...in different parts of the world. I've learned a lot from them and will be using this forum to pass on some of the things I've learned and feel are important. Please feel free to use this information if you feel it's worthwhile...hopefully you can avoid some of the same mistakes I've learned from.