Supervisors: Dr John Littlewoood – Director of Studies; Dr Huw Millward
Buildings are responsible for around 50% of global carbon dioxide
(CO2) emissions. Through improved understanding of design, construction
and operation of buildings, their environmental impact could reduce
The candidate has reviewed papers of earth tube systems in different
applications and found that there are conflicting views on their
effectiveness and doubts on their suitability. However, based on his
experience working as an engineer in the extreme climate of Western
Canada (-20°C to +40°C), he has found that this difference between
outdoor air temperature and ground temperature may have the potential to
meet the cooling needs of buildings.
Recent trends in low carbon buildings have utilised geothermal energy
systems that – counter intuitively – use complex and energy intensive
processes to generate energy. Earth tubes on the other hand, may require
only a fan to move air through buried ducts that transfer energy
indirectly from the ground.
Initial research carried out by the candidate revealed limited data
beyond operational and simulated thermal performance. Most case study
data focuses on the performance of earth tubes to partially pre-heat the
outdoor air. However the candidate proposes to investigate the
potential for – and limits of – earth tubes to deliver 100% of the
cooling requirements by eliminating the need for expensive and energy
inefficient air conditioning systems.