News Brief

New Guide Helps Avoid Pitfalls in Ground-Source Heat Pump Design

Overly complex loop designs and controls limit the commercial applicability of ground-source heat pumps. A new guide shows a better way.

ASHRAE’s new design and installation guide helps optimize ground-source heat pumps for commercial applications.

ASHRAE published a guide on non-residential ground-source heat pumps in 1997, but demand for the technology—along with improper design and installation of these systems—has continued, prompting the organization to release an updated version that also covers commercial-scale systems.

“There is a widely held view that anything bearing the name ‘geothermal,’ ‘ground source,’ or ‘earth energy’ will produce the desired high efficiency and low operating cost,” according to Steve Kavanaugh, author of the guide along with Kevin Rafferty (to test those assumptions, see Ground-Source Heat Pumps: Are They Green?). “As a result, poorly designed systems are often installed, and building owners’ expectations are unmet.” Inefficient pumping, high-cost ground-loop designs, inadequate outside-air provisions, and unnecessarily complex control schemes are some of the most common problems.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling: Design of Ground-Source Heat Pump Systems” updates the guidance to include information on site characterization and the latest equipment and piping.

As demand for ground-source heat pumps continues to grow—the market for commercial buildings is expected to grow nearly 5% faster than the climate-control market as a whole, according to a study by Frost and Sullivan—this guide could help smart design and installation of these systems keep pace.

Published March 17, 2015

Pearson, C. (2015, March 17). New Guide Helps Avoid Pitfalls in Ground-Source Heat Pump Design. Retrieved from

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.