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This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.

Benefits of ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use geoenergy, a form of shallow geothermal energy, to provide year-long building heating and cooling sustainably, effectively, and efficiently. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, geothermal systems prove to be quieter, last longer, and require less maintenance than other leading HVAC solutions. In addition, they do not depend on the outside air temperature, which makes them reliable and more energy efficient.

To further incentivize geoenergy solutions, recently added federal and local green incentives help reduce the installation cost by a significant portion, making GSHP an attractive and more sustainable alternative when compared to conventional heating and cooling solutions.

A diagram illustrates two buildings side by side to convey the notion of geothermal heat pumps (represented with arrows below the buildings).
Geothermal heat pumps use the constant underground temperatures as thermal storage to exchange temperatures efficiently, heating buildings in the winter (left) and cooling them in the summer (right). The Earth plays the role of a thermal battery.

GSHP solutions are sustainable and cost-effective

According to the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, GSHP systems can be installed on a residential structure, a lot of any size, a commercial building of any age, or even an existing community. A comparative study in the Alexandria Engineering Journal notes that GSHPs have a higher coefficient of performance (COP) and energy efficiency than other building heating and cooling technologies. The study found in comparison to air source heat pumps (ASHP), GSHPs reduced annual energy usage by up to 239 MWh per year, cut CO2 emissions by 140 tons and saved an additional $27,280.  GSHPs can perform as much as 70 percent more efficiently than other heating systems and 20 to 40 percent more than air conditioners for cooling.

In the Greater Boston area, organizations are seeking options for GSHP design and installations to integrate quality sustainable thermal comfort into building projects. Celsius Energy, a thermal comfort provider based in Cambridge, is one such company. 

A man points at a blue diagram on a screen that presents data on a geothermal system.
A Celsius Energy digital management system showing live information on heating and cooling, electricity savings, and more for optimization of an operating geothermal system.

Celsius Energy offers a GSHP system that can reduce a building’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent, energy consumption by up to 70 percent, and building operational cost by up to 40 percent while covering 80 to 100 percent of thermal comfort needs. The company, which mostly caters to buildings of more than 10,000 square feet, also offers an advanced digital management system that optimizes fuel replacement and electricity reduction in combination with geoenergy.

Although GSHPs have a higher upfront installation cost when compared to alternative heating and cooling systems, the long-term energy savings justify the investment. For instance, considering the extremely long life span of GSHP systems which is designed to last the lifetime of a building, one can expect around 25 years for indoor components and 50-plus years for ground heat exchangers, the system pays itself back on large energy savings for decades to come.


Decarbonization and ground source heat pump incentives for buildings

Upon rejoining the Paris Agreement in 2021, the United States committed to an ambitious target of decreasing net carbon emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The building sector, which accounts for around 35% of total energy-related emissions in the U.S., has been identified as a significant contributor. A recent report by the Rhodium Group indicates the U.S. is lagging in meeting its emissions reduction target, underlining the pressing need to intensify decarbonization efforts. Given the high effectiveness of geoenergy solutions in reducing carbon emissions, they are emerging as an attractive decarbonization solution for building owners across the country.

Locally in the city of Boston, which has recognized the role of buildings in curbing emissions, energy and greenhouse gas emissions reporting for existing large buildings are now mandated under BERDO. To enable the transition, local subsidies are available from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and Mass Save. Real estate developers; trustees; building owners; municipalities (schools, local government buildings, and libraries); educational institutions (universities, colleges, and schools), and the general public all may have incentives to consider as well. The 2022 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report states that Massachusetts is looking into expanding the use of clean energy sources and tools, including geoenergy, incentivized by MassCEC technology development grants.

A room filled with pipes and wires surrounding a heat pump in the center illustrate a Celsius Energy solution.
An installed Celsius Energy solution technical room with a heat pump in the center.

Nationally, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has created opportunities for investment tax credits up to 50 percent along with other financial aids to support building decarbonization. The act substantially enhances incentives for GSHP installations in commercial and residential buildings, including the introduction of a new direct payment option for non-taxable entities. 

In addition to government grants and other funding opportunities allowing up to 30 to 50 percent reductions on installation cost, Celsius Energy offers their geoenergy thermal comfort solutions with no upfront cost. This further enables accessibility to energy, carbon emission and cost reductions for building owners, developers, campuses and municipalities alike, making decarbonization goals not a vision but a reality.


The Celsius Energy Solution

A Celsius Energy installation consisting of a small, outdoor pyramid in front of a spiral staircase and a glass wall.
A Celsius Energy installation converting a five-floor office building from gas heating and air-conditioned cooling to a 100 percent geoenergy system, reducing CO2 emissions by 90 percent, and energy consumption by 72 percent.

Celsius Energy has the tools and solutions to help determine the best thermal comfort solution, new or retrofit. Its state-of-the-art technology enables geoenergy solutions to be implemented in dense urban areas where land is scarce. The company’s unique pyramid-shaped heat exchanger solution reduces surface footprint by up to 90 percent and piping material reduction by up to 70 percent compared to standard GSHP offerings. The solution also enables simultaneous construction efforts on site, making it ideal for both residential and a range of commercial buildings everywhere.

The precise and efficient heat exchanger design of the Celsius Energy solution offers another advantage: the reduction of system cost through advanced ground characterization and modeling capabilities to decrease the number of wellbore placements needed. The company has developed a technology capable of measuring distributed ground heat transfer characteristics and temperature, a unique but incredibly valuable resource for optimizing geoenergy system designs. Celsius Energy’s holistic geoenergy system works while eliminating up to 90 percent of CO₂ emissions per kWh generated when compared to fossil fuel-powered heating and cooling units.

Other benefits of the Celsius Energy solution, besides its small surface footprint, advanced ground characterization and modeling technologies, include an industry-leading digital management system. It provides a digital twin allowing live monitoring and optimization of an installed solution without disrupting the working system. This provides both precision and convenience and further enhancing the cost-effectiveness of the system over its lifetime. 

Geothermal drilling

Inclined drilling, or angled drilling, is becoming a more attractive option for system installation. Today’s standard geothermal drilling is vertical. While effective, this configuration requires a large surface footprint for the installation to supply enough heat exchange capacity especially in multi-unit buildings or on campuses.

Inclined drilling may be necessary in areas where the terrain is not accessible due to surface objects or existing structures. Additionally, legal, topographic, or institutional issues can be solved with inclined drilling.

The challenge facing most GSHP providers and building owners is twofold: the lack of awareness on how inclined drilling works and developing technology to implement this technique effectively.   

Celsius Energy provides the industry’s latest pyramid-shaped inclined drilling solution, allowing geothermal technology to be utilized almost anywhere, even in dense urban areas like Boston where traditional installations would not be feasible. It preserves real estate for future development, which would be impossible with vertical field installations. Celsius Energy’s drilling technique can efficiently install multiple inclined bores from a central location, which is less expensive than moving a rig to a new site for each bore. In addition to reducing surface footprint by up to 90 percent, the pyramid-shaped solution also reduces horizontal piping by up to 70 percent, cutting down plastic consumption, construction time, and installation cost. 

Illustration of the reduced surface footprint comparison of a standard vertical geoenergy installation (left) vs. Celsius Energy’s unique pyramid-shaped solution (right).

Celsius Energy combines the inclined drilling and ground modeling expertise of its parent company SLB with a digital energy management solution to advance the geoenergy building heating and cooling industry.

From the design phase to implementation of GHSP, Celsius Energy provides a sustainable one-stop solution that is reliable and efficient.

Celsius Energy is on a mission to deliver efficient and effective future-proof building heating and cooling solutions around the globe using sustainable energy right under our feet. Interested to learn more? Visit or contact them at [email protected]


This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.