How heat from the ground is having an impact on the world

In order to lower carbon emissions, Dr Phil Vardon wants to generate energy through pile foundations, using the natural temperature of the soil. How does this work?

The Co-Creation Centre at The Green Village gets its energy from the ground. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

Most heating and cooling is still powered by fossil fuels, but the Co-Creation Centre at The Green Village gets its energy from the ground. The building is kept warm or cool thanks to energy pile foundations.


“Shallow geothermal energy has been used for quite a long time,” explains Dr Phil Vardon, one of the researchers involved. “But, our system is unique because the energy system is built into the foundations of the building.” According to Vardon the idea is relatively simple. There are pipes in the foundation piles that circulate fluid.

“If you want to heat the building you circulate a fluid that is cooler and it heats up as it goes through the ground. You then utilise that temperature difference to generate the energy needed to heat the building.”

This means that in summer, when a building is likely to be warm, you can use the same system for cooling. The process is then exactly the opposite. Vardon explains how it works. “You push in a fluid that is a bit warmer, and it cools down as it goes through the ground. By using a heat pump you can generate the cooling that you need.”

TU Delft TV visited Dr Phil Vardon at the Co-Creation Centre. Watch the short documentary below: