Research Papers

Evaluation of Thermo-Active Foundations for Heating and Cooling Residential Buildings

[+] Author and Article Information
Byung Chang Kwag

Department of Civil, Environmental, and
Architectural Engineering,
University of Colorado Boulder,
Boulder, CO 80309
e-mail: kwag@colorado.edu

Moncef Krarti

Civil, Environmental, and
Architectural Engineering Department,
University of Colorado,
Boulder, CO 80309
e-mail: Krarti@colorado.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received September 11, 2015; final manuscript received September 17, 2016; published online October 10, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Jorge E. Gonzalez.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 138(6), 061010 (Oct 10, 2016) (10 pages) Paper No: SOL-15-1302; doi: 10.1115/1.4034806 History: Received September 11, 2015; Revised September 17, 2016

The application of thermo-active foundation (TAF) systems to heat and cool residential buildings is evaluated in this paper. First, a transient three-dimensional finite difference numerical model is developed for the analysis of thermo-active foundations. The numerical model predictions are then validated against experimental data obtained from laboratory testing. Using the validated numerical model, G-functions for TAFs are generated and integrated into whole-building simulation analysis program, energyplus. A comparative analysis is carried out to evaluate TAF systems compared to conventional ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs) to provide heating and cooling for multifamily residential buildings. In particular, the analysis compares the cost-effectiveness of TAFs and GSHPs to meet heating and cooling needs for a prototypical multifamily building in three U.S. climates. Due to lower initial costs associated to the reduced excavation costs, it is found that TAFs offer a more cost-effectiveness than GSHP systems to heat and cool multifamily residential buildings.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Kusuda, T. , and Achenbach, P. R. , 1965, “ Earth Temperature and Thermal Diffusivity at Selected Stations in the United States,” ASHRAE Trans., 71(1), pp. 120–131.
Krarti, M. , 1999, “ Ground-Coupled Heat Transfer,” Advances in Solar Energy, Y. Goswami , ed., ASES Publication, Boulder, CO.
ASHRAE, 2009, ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals, American Society for Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers, Atlanta, GA.
U.S. Department of Energy, 2012, “ Geothermal Heat Pumps,” U.S. Department of Energy, Geothermal Technologies Office, Washington, DC, accessed Dec. 15, 2014, http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/ geothermal-heat-pumps
Brandl, H. , 2006, “ Energy Foundations and Other Thermo-Active Ground Structures,” Geotechnique, 56(2), pp. 81–122. [CrossRef]
Loveridge, F. , Amis, T. , and Powrie, W. , 2012, “ Energy Pile Performance and Preventing Ground Freezing,” 2012 World Congress on Advances in Civil, Environmental, and Materials Research (ACEM '12), Seoul, Korea, Aug. 26–30, pp 2419–2432.
Oguma, M. , Matsumoto, T. , Funabiki, A. , Miyaoka, F. , Ito, K. , and Kakizaki, T. , 2013, “ Numerical Solution of a Ground Source Heat Pump System using Foundation Piles,” ASME Paper No. HT2013-17315.
Adam, D. , and Markiewicz, R. , 2009, “ Energy From Earth-Coupled Structures, Foundations, Tunnels and Sewers,” Géotechnique, 59(3), pp. 229–236. [CrossRef]
McCartney, J. S. , LaHaise, D. , LaHaise, T. , and Rosenberg, J. E. , 2010, “ Feasibility of Incorporating Geothermal Heat Sinks/Sources Into Deep Foundations,” The Art of Foundation Engineering Practice, Vol. 198, M. Hussein , W. Camp , and J. Anderson , eds., American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA.
McCartney, J. S. , Regueiro, R. , Ko, H.-Y. , Krarti, M. , and Pfeffer, T. , 2010, “ Centrifuge Modeling of Soil Structure Interaction in Geothermal Foundations,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Initiative (RASEI), University of Colorado at Boulder. Boulder, CO.
Kaltreider, C. , Krarti, M. , and McCartney, J. , 2015, “ Heat Transfer Analysis of Thermo-Active Foundations,” Energy Build., 86(1), pp. 492–501. [CrossRef]
Rouissi, K. , Krarti, M. , and McCartney, J. S. , 2011, “ Analysis of Thermo-Active Foundation Using U-Tube Heat Exchangers,” ASME J. Sol. Energy Eng., 134(2), p. 021008. [CrossRef]
Stewart, M. A. , and McCartney, J. S. , 2012, “ Centrifuge Modeling of Soil-Structure Interaction in Energy Foundations,” J. Geotech. Geoenviron. Eng., 140(4), p. 04013044. [CrossRef]
Kwag, B. C. , and Krarti, M. , 2013, “ Performance of Thermo-Active Foundations for Commercial Buildings,” ASME J. Sol. Energy Eng., 135(4), p. 040907. [CrossRef]
Laloui, L. , Nuth, M. , and Vulliet, L. , 2006, “ Experimental, Numerical Investigations of the Behaviour of a Heat Exchanger Pile,” Int. J. Numer. Anal. Methods Geomech., 30(8), pp. 763–781. [CrossRef]
Hamada, Y. , Nakamura, M. , Kubota, H. , and Ochifuji, K. , 2007, “ Field Performance of an Energy Pile System for Space Heating,” Energy Build., 39(5), pp. 517–524. [CrossRef]
Sekine, K. , Ooka, R. , Yokoi, M. , Shiba, Y. , and Hwang, S. , 2007, “ Development of a Ground-Source Heat Pump System With Ground Heat Exchanger Utilizing the Cast-in-Place Concrete Pile Foundations of Buildings,” ASHRAE Trans., 113(1), pp. 558–566.
Wood, J. C. , Liu, H. , and Riffat, S. B. , 2010, “ An Investigation of the Heat Pump Performance and Ground Temperature of a Piled Foundation Heat Exchanger System for a Residential Building,” Energy, 25(12), pp. 4932–4940. [CrossRef]
Jalaluddin , Miyara, A. , Tsubaki, K. , Inoue, S. , and Yoshida, K. , 2011, “ Experimental Study of Several Types of Ground Heat Exchanger Using a Steel Pile Foundation,” Renewable Energy, 36(2), pp. 764–771. [CrossRef]
Yavuzturk, C. , Spitler, J. D. , and Rees, S. J. , 1999, “ A Transient Two-Dimensional Finite Volume Model for the Simulation of Vertical U-Tube Ground Heat Exchangers,” ASHRAE Trans., 105(2), pp. 465–474.
Kavanaugh, S. , 2010, “ An Instruction Guide for Using a Design Tool for Vertical Ground-Coupled, Groundwater and Surface Water Heat Pumps Systems—Ground Source Heat Pump System Designer, GshpCalc Version 5.0,” Energy Information Services, Northport, AL, accessed Mar. 20, 2015, http://www.geokiss.com
EnergyPlus, 2010, “ Engineering Reference, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” Building Technologies Program, Washington, DC.
Patankar, S. V. , 1980, Numerical Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow, Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, New York.
Kwag, B. C. , and Krarti, M. , 2014, “ Development of a Response Factor Model for Thermos-Active Building Foundation,” ASME Paper No. IMECE2014-36350.
Eskilson, P. , 1987, “ Thermal Analysis of Heat Extraction Boreholes,” Doctoral thesis, University of Lund, Department of Mathematical Physics, Lund, Sweden.
DOE, 2013, “ Residential Prototype Building Models,” Department of Energy, Washington, DC, accessed Mar. 20, 2015, https://www.energycodes.gov/development/residential/iecc_models
Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency, 2004, “ Heating and Cooling With a Heat Pump,” NRC, Ottawa, Canada.
EIA, 2014, “ Colorado, State Profile and Energy Estimates, Rankings: Average Retail Price of Electricity,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, Washington, DC, accessed Mar. 25, 2015, http://www.eia.gov/state/rankings/?sid=CO#series/31
EIA, 2014, “ Colorado, State Profile and Energy Estimates, Rankings: Natural Gas Residential Prices,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, Washington, DC, accessed Mar. 25, 2015, http://www.eia.gov/state/rankings/?sid=CO#series/28
DOE, 2011, “ Guide to Geothermal Heat Pumps,” Department of Energy, Washington, DC.
Rad, F. M. , Fung, A. S. , and Leong, W. H. , 2009, “ Combined Solar Thermal and Ground Source Heat Pump System,” Eleventh International IBPSA Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, July 27–30, pp. 2297–2305.
Meyer, J. , Pride, D. , O'Toole, J. , Craven, C. , and Spencer, V. , 2011, “ Ground-Source Heat Pumps in Cold Climates,” Alaska Center for Energy and Power Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Fairbanks, AK.
ECW, 2011, “ Hybrid Ground-Source Heat Pump Installations: Experiences, Improvements and Tools,” Energy Center of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

The boundary conditions for the TAF numerical model

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Three-dimensional model for the building slab-on-grade foundation with thermal piles

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

(a) Nonuniform grid of the thermo-active foundation medium and (b) control volume of one interior node

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Comparative analysis of the experimental data and the model predictions: (a) foundation temperature and (b) outlet fluid temperature

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Variation of computing time and RMSE value for the numerical solution as a function of the grid size

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Testing setup using (a) centrifuge and (b) insulated soil container to house the TAF pile

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

(a) A test setup for a scale-model TAF system and (b) locations of strain and temperature probes [13]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

The variations of the fluid inlet and outlet temperatures, and the ambient temperature of the experimental data [13]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Example building modeled in energyplus

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Monthly average outdoor air dry-bulb temperature of Boulder, CO; Chicago, IL; and New York, NY

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

Schematic drawings for (a) cooling system loop and (b) heating system loop coupled with water-to-water heat pump and ground coupled heat exchangers modeled in energyplus

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 12

Foundation locations of the prototypical multifamily residential building



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In