Geothermal Architecture: Getting Energy from the Earth

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Geothermal energy, harvested from deep under the crust of the earth, has the potential to replace a sizable amount of fossil fuel usage in the United States. Studies have projected that current growth in the industry could lead to this environmentally-friendly, renewable energy source providing 10% of the nation’s power by 2050. Here are 14 buildings, from homes to corporate headquarters, that are already taking advantage of this minimal-impact source of heat, cooling and power.

Sandstone Cave House, Missouri

Geothermal Cave House

(images via: inhabitat)

Living in a cave may not sound all that appealing, but most of us will change our minds when we see this sandstone cave house in Festus, Missouri. The home blends modern materials with the unfinished sandstone of the 15,000-square-foot cave. Passive solar design keeps the home comfortable in the summer, while geothermal energy provides heat in the winter.

Blue Ridge House, Virginia

Geothermal Blue Ridge House

(images via: voorsanger architects)

This stunning mountain home in Virginia boasts a whopping 10 geothermal wells that provide its heating and cooling. The dramatic overhanging roofs shade the home from the sun and create large outdoor pavilions.

Earthwall 2, Idaho

Geothermal Earthwall 2

(images via: ward + blake)

Made from local red clay taken right from its own foundation, Earthwall 2 is oriented for maximum winter solar exposure to keep it warm on cold Idaho nights. The rammed earth construction gives it high thermal mass, enabling it to absorb heat throughout the day and release it once the sun goes down. It’s also got a ground-source geothermal heat pump to regulate temperature, and a green roof to provide more insulation.

EHA Residence, Wyoming

Geothermal EHA Residence

(images via: ward + blake)

A closed-loop geothermal pump keeps the luxury EHA residence by Ward + Blake Architects in Wyoming cool in summer and warm in winter. The home was designed to rise above the water table to prevent mold. Nearly all of its siding is made of recycled materials.

Geothermal House by Maryann Thompson

Geothermal House Maryann Thompson

(images via:

Designed to soak up sunlight and heat when it’s needed during cool weather and filter it out in the summer, the Geothermal House by Maryann Thompson has a layout that follows the sun’s progress throughout the year. A geothermal system also supplies heat and cooling, taking the energy from the ground to save about 60% on energy costs.

Sycamore House, California

Geothermal Sycamore House

(images via: kovac architects)

Architect Michael Kovac designed his own LEED Platinum-certified California home using 75% reclaimed materials. The home is almost entirely powered with solar energy, and cooled with a geothermal system. Setting it into the hillside not only gives it an amazing view, it also increases thermal massing, protecting it from temperature fluctuations.

GREENville House, North Carolina

Geothermal Greenville House

(images via: tonic design)

Powered by both solar and geothermal energy, this contemporary North Carolina residence lives up to its name (which is also the name of the city in which it’s located.) Oriented to maximize the amount of solar energy its photovoltaic panels can collect, the home also has a geothermal HVAC system, enabling it to run independently from the grid.

GlaxoSmithKline Building, Quebec

Geothermal GlaxoSmithKline

(images via: coarchitecture)

This dramatic structure is the Quebec headquarters for biotechnology firm GlaxoSmithKline. LEED Gold-certified, the structure has a bold double-skinned facade, a south-facing atrium, an FSC-certified timber frame and geothermal heating and cooling.