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Geothermal district heating and cooling systems, which often use geothermal heat pumps, can both heat and cool an area as large as a college campus or military base.  

Geothermal heating and cooling technologies, including geothermal heat pumps and district heating, offer green, efficient temperature control solutions for buildings, campuses, and even entire communities. Widespread adoption of these technologies helps to decarbonize the building and electricity sectors, reduce energy costs for families, stabilize the grid, and boost community resilience.

Geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption and emissions up to 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and 72% compared to standard air-conditioning equipment.

How Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work?

The rocks and soils below a building or community act as a heat sink—absorbing excess heat during summer, when surface temperatures are relatively higher—and as a heat source during the winter, when surface temperatures are lower.

Geothermal heat pumps, or GHPs, use the constant temperature of the shallow earth (40–70°F) to provide heating and cooling solutions to buildings wherever the ground can be cost-effectively accessed to depths below seasonal temperature variations.

Geothermal heat pumps increase the efficiency and reduce the energy consumption of heating and cooling systems in residential and commercial buildings. They are currently deployed across all 50 states, and the market is growing as their value becomes better understood.

Learn more about geothermal heat pumps and their potential to decarbonize buildings and reduce the need for new grid transmission nationwide. 

How Does Geothermal District Heating Work?

Geothermal District Heating & Cooling 101

District and community-scale geothermal heating and cooling systems use one or more underground loops to create a heating and cooling network that can use a series of heat pumps. New and different configurations of these systems are emerging in universities and communities all over the United States.

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Community Geothermal Heating and Cooling Design and Deployment initiative is supporting 11 community coalitions in 10 states to design and deploy geothermal district heating and cooling systems, create related workforce training, and identify and address environmental justice concerns.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling activities are part of the Low Temperature and Coproduced Resources. Learn more about other GTO Priorities.