Recently, we have been learning about how heating and cooling systems effect architecture and how we can change these systems by harnessing the energy in our natural environment. Something that I have found particularly interesting is geothermal heating.
Geothermal heating is based on the principle that just below the surface of the earth, the ground is at a constant temperature which is warmer than the air in the winter, and cooler than the air in the summer. By placing a loop of pipe filled with water beneath the ground, you can use this energy to heat/cool the water which is brought into the heating/cooling system of the building. This allows the heating system to use less energy to heat the building by using the earth’s “free” energy.
Before looking into geothermal heating more in depth, I always thought it was a very complicated system and wasn’t very adaptable. Geothermal heating, however, is a really simply system and it surprises me that it isn’t used more often. When researching buildings which use this process, most projects are typical suburban homes.
Here is a video by SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry which describes how a geothermal system is installed in a home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70vCCZnb8H4
Steven Holl used geothermal heating in his project, Linked Hybrid in Beijing, China. Linked Hybrid is an mixed use complex with over 600 apartments, a hotel, schools, and retail space. The complex uses geothermal heating on an extremely large scale, and is one of the greenest residential projects in the world.