About 30 minutes south of downtown Atlanta, developers behind the Pinewood Forrest mega-project in Fayetteville are making no bones about it: Those noisy, unsightly A/C units that whir beside countless houses in the region won’t be allowed.
Instead, Pinewood Forrest is gunning to become the first large-scale project in the U.S. to use geothermal energy for all of its single-family houses and townhomes. Officials say the systems are more affordable, quieter, cleaner, and more durable than other energy options.
Led by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, the community will include retail and lodging components alongside 700 houses and townhomes. Its first phase is rising now across the street from Pinewood Studios, the country’s largest movie studio outside Los Angeles.
At 234 acres, the Pinewood Forrest site is roughly the size of Piedmont, Centennial Olympic, and Historic Fourth Ward parks combined.
Across the community, traditional HVAC systems are being ditched for systems of geothermal pumps, which are buried a few feet beneath homes to produce both heating and cooling.
Here’s the official pitch from Pinewood developers:
“Geothermal is a clean, renewable energy source generated and stored in the Earth. To access this energy, a hole is drilled to reach the level where there is a consistent underground temperature of approximately 58 degrees year-round. Geothermal underground heat pump systems take advantage of this stable temperature to more efficiently heat and cool homes compared to traditional HVAC systems, which are above ground and exposed to more variable and extreme conditions.
Geothermal systems offer up to 70 percent energy cost savings—that’s more than $200 off a $300 electric bill—and are more durable and long-lasting, with underground components potentially lasting more than 50 years compared to around 12 years with traditional systems.”
Still confused? This YouTube video helps paint a clearer picture.
The Pinewood team insists that benefits of buried, virtually silent energy systems—without outdoor compressors—reach beyond the pocketbook, allowing residents to “relax and enjoy inspiration from the natural environment and surroundings.”
Under construction now at Pinewood Forrest is a range of cottages (from two-bedrooms starting at $375,000) to estate homes (three to six bedrooms) that begin at $1 million.
Once complete, the mini-city will offer 1,300 residences—including 600 multifamily units—nestled among 118 acres of public greenspace, with 15 miles of pedestrian pathways stitched between. Plans call for linking the project to public transit via a MARTA shuttle.
The first phase is expected to deliver by year’s end.
- Pinewood Forrest [site]