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Category: Sustainability (page 1 of 7)

Why Use Ground Source Heat Pumps in Ireland?


Ground Source Heat Pumps are an efficient method of harnessing Geothermal Energy. These systems provide significant cost savings compared to fossil fuel alternatives as well as providing environmental benefits.

The image below from Geological Survey of Ireland explains how a ground source heat pump works. How ground source heat pumps work

© Geological Survey of Ireland 2015


In Ireland the ground maintains a constant temperature between 11°C and 13°C, several metres below the surface.


Ireland has warm moist soils and a climate which is ideally suited for harnessing shallow geothermal energy year round. The soil type in Ireland allows this heat to be retained, while the frequent rainfall keeps the soil moist. This moisture within the ground is an excellent heat conductor, allowing heat to move towards your collector system. This favours the deployment of horizontal collector systems in many parts of Ireland.

(Source © Geological Survey of Ireland 2015, ‘Ground Source Heat’ & ‘Shallow Geothermal Energy’ Homeowner Manual)

There are other types of heat pumps but the earth’s constant temperature is what makes geothermal heat pumps one of the most efficient, comfortable, and quiet heating and cooling technologies available today. The ground ensures a relatively stable supply of heat for the heat pump and higher performances than air-source ones.

What are typical system installation costs?

The installation guide price outlined below is for a 4 bedroom detached property with a BER of C1 and allows for 200 square metres (m2) of underfloor heating. The costs include the cost of the heat pump and the groundworks for the installation of a loop.

Heat pumps Costs 2012

© Geological Survey of Ireland 2015

The initial capital costs of installing a ground source heat pump system is usually higher than other conventional central heating systems. But typically, four units of heat are generated for every unit of electricity used by the heat pump to deliver it, and the payback time is typically about 8-10 years.

Geological Survey of Ireland published in March 2015 a publication that aims to help readers with the decision to purchase and install a domestic ground source heat pump (GSHP) system for home heating. You can download this publication here:  ‘Ground Source Heat’ & ‘Shallow Geothermal Energy’ Homeowner Manual.


The Geological Survey of Ireland has produced a series of ‘ground source heat suitability’ maps. These maps provide a useful preliminary screening tool to assess what type(s) of ground source heat collector system is most appropriate. Separate maps have been produced for horizontal and vertical and closed and open loop systems.

The ground source collector suitability maps can be queried interactively via the GSI’s webmapping at

For more information on the maps and ground source and geothermal resources, please see

Where to Go When Things Get Green


There are many resources available online to promote sustainable building products, materials and construction techniques. We have reviewed some of them and these are the ones that we have found to be more helpful.




Greenspec logoGreenSpec is the foremost ‘Green Building’ resource in the UK. Independent of companies and trade bodies and launched in 2003 with government funding, GreenSpec promotes sustainable building products, materials and construction techniques.


BRE Green Guide to Specification

bre logoThe Green Guide is part of BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) an accredited environmental rating scheme for buildings in UK. The Green Guide contains more than 1500 specifications used in various types of building. The Green Guide is primarily developed to provide building architects and specifiers environmental impact information to support the material/product specification and selection process.


Architects Journal – Footprint


‘Footprint’ is the sustainability hub of this UK’s best-selling weekly architecture magazine. Topics range from Green News to Green Buildings and Green Products.


Passive House +

logoPHPPassive House Plus is an Irish innovative sustainable magazine about Passivhaus, Passive House technology and more. Articles range from Project cases to Part L – Building Regulations and Product News.



Building4changing logoBuilding4change is an online knowledge hub, dedicated to sustainability, innovation and best practice in the built environment.


Zero Carbon Hub

Zero_Carbon_Hub_logo2Its primary aim is to support the mainstream delivery of low and zero carbon homes in England. Their website provides  guidance and information through publications. It also highlights building profiles with tested innovative solutions.



From Wood to Energy

The Monastery of Klosterneuburg in Austria provides a fantastic example of autonomy, sustainability and a responsibility to both people and nature.

Their biomass heating plant was part of the Renewable Energy Research Trip to Austria.

This underground biomass heating plant built in just twelve months in 2003 not only supplies heating to the monastery but also provides power from renewable biomass to the hospital, the town hall and a leisure center in Klosterneuburg via the utility company.

The plant gets the wooden chips mainly from 4 forest districts nearby the plant (maximum transport distance 10km). The chip containers are filled every 2-3 months.

A 2.5 MW biomass boiler was constructed as well as an electricity and heat generation by an ORC (organic rankine cycle) process producing 200 kW of electrical energy and 1.0 MW of heat. The big boiler (2.5MW) is only used during winter time.

The assessment of the heating requirements of the monastery and of the neighbouring recreational centre “Happyland” resulted in an annual heat requirement of 11,550 MWh per year. In 2010 the biomass plant was able to produce 17,557MWh (see more facts on the images below).

More details about the operation of this biomass plant here.

The entire facility (heating plant, biomass storehouse, wine cellar, parking garage for buses and private vehicles) was built underground. This was a special challenge for the mechanical engineering team and the architectural concept was designed by Heinz Tesar.

 Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass PlantStift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

Access to the underground biomass plant

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

The wood chips were quite warm to the touch

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

Hatch from where the chips are unloaded

2011_11_23_Smart City Project Klosterneuburg (25) 2011_11_23_Smart City Project Klosterneuburg (30) 2011_11_23_Smart City Project Klosterneuburg (36) 2011_11_23_Smart City Project Klosterneuburg (37)

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

Organic Carbon cycle

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

From the forest to the heating plant

Stift Klosterneuburg_Biomass Plant

Biomass power generation process

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