Fleur Loveridge and William Powrie, University of Southampton; and Peter Smith, Cementation Skanska. This paper was first published in GE’s January 2013 issue.
Thermal piles - foundation piles that are equipped with heat transfer pipes to allow them to be connected into a ground source heat pump system - are an important means of reducing both energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from new buildings. However, the inclusion of plastic pipes will complicate pile construction and the impact of additional cycles of temperature change in the concrete and the ground needs to be understood and controlled within appropriate limits. In addition, the thermal, as well as the geotechnical capacity, of the piles needs to be assessed. This note provides a summary of key design issues and construction challenges relating to the use of thermal piles based on typical construction techniques currently adopted in the UK.