The potential of geocooling

The project aims to demonstrate the technical feasibility of a field of geothermal probes sized to heat and cool a residential building. The cooling needs are satisfied through geocooling technology and the project wants as well to verify the rational and efficient use of electricity to cool a building with residential apartments. The monitoring of an existing building of 46 apartments, built according to the Minergie® standard and located in Lugano, was an opportunity to verify and quantify this technology.

It has been demonstrated that geocooling makes it possible to cool the residential building studied with a very low consumption of electricity. In addition, underfloor cooling makes it possible to respect indoor comfort standards in terms of indoor temperature. However, high energy efficiency and correct indoor comfort are strictly linked and dependent on the correct implementation of technical regulation and management of the thermal plant equipment. The improvement in efficiency and comfort in the last two monitored years, compared to the previous two, has shown how important it is to plan the systems optimally from the beginning phases. The improvements identified, and then solved, could in fact not be identified without this careful monitoring related to the research activity. This would have meant a more efficient system than the typical air conditioning systems, but with an underexploited potential, as well as possible problems for indoor comfort.
The system realized in the building exploits the natural difference between the indoor air temperature of the apartments (high) and the underground temperature (low) without the necessity of a reversible heat pump (cooling machine).

Freecooling by geocooling offers an interesting alternative to standard solutions. This technology allows obtaining significantly higher efficiency compared to the air conditioning and reversible heat pumps technologies. This information will allow the essential aspects of knowledge to plan and size future installations and quantify the importance of a thermal charging using geocooling.