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Open AccessArticle

An Innovative Use of Renewable Ground Heat for Insulation in Low Exergy Building Systems

Singapore-ETH Centre, Future Cities Laboratory, Low Exergy Module, Singapore 118999, Singapore
ETH Zurich, Institute for Technology in Architecture, Building Systems, Zurich 8093, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2012, 5(8), 3149-3166;
Received: 12 June 2012 / Revised: 12 July 2012 / Accepted: 13 July 2012 / Published: 20 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exergy Analysis of Energy Systems)
Ground heat is a renewable resource that is readily available for buildings in cool climates, but its relatively low temperature requires the use of a heat pump to extract it for heating. We developed a system that uses low temperature ground heat directly in a building wall to reduce transmission heat losses. The Active Low Exergy Geothermal Insulation Systems (ALEGIS) minimizes exergy demand and maximizes the use of renewable geothermal heat from the ground. A fluid is pumped into a small pipe network in an external layer of a wall construction that is linked to a ground heat source. This decouples the building from the outside temperature, therefore eliminating large peak demands and reducing the primary energy demand. Our steady-state analysis shows that at a design temperature of −10 °C the 6 cm thick active insulation system has equivalent performance to 11 cm of passive insulation. Our comparison of heating performance of a building with our active insulation system versus a building with static insulation of the same thickness shows a 15% reduction in annual electricity demand, and thus exergy input. We present an overview of the operation and analysis of our low exergy concept and its modeled performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: buildings; insulation; geothermal; ground heat; heat pumps; exergy buildings; insulation; geothermal; ground heat; heat pumps; exergy
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Meggers, F.; Baldini, L.; Leibundgut, H. An Innovative Use of Renewable Ground Heat for Insulation in Low Exergy Building Systems. Energies 2012, 5, 3149-3166.

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