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Beauty Plus Sustainability: Why Architects Like Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Home Hacks Carla Morris December 21 7 minutes reading time

Space to create ignites an architect's imagination, but nothing kills that spark like having to make room for hulking, unsightly HVAC equipment.   

"Mechanicals" steal beauty with every inch of space they consume. Gone is the vision of that larger family room or clever storage. Gone is the prospect of that quiet spot for outside entertainment.   

But now, designers can reclaim space thanks to low-profile geothermal heating and cooling systems. That's good news for homeowners and commercial developers alike.   

Architects Resized


Geothermal systems consume a much smaller footprint than their conventional HVAC counterparts.   

  • Their main outdoor component, a loop of pipes, is buried and out of sight.   
  • Their main indoor component, a compact heat pump, fits in a mechanical closet or small utility space.   
  • Their discrete vents and grates align with modern architectural aesthetics that employ clean lines and unobtrusive designs.    

Geothermal systems require no outdoor condenser units. Known for their quiet operation, they reduce the need for sound barriers and acoustic treatments.  

It's a plus for architects who find new ways to integrate geothermal systems into building designs while preserving aesthetics. Here are some examples.  


Courtyard installationsCourtyards atop buried vertical loops of pipe add a delightful, intimate outdoor living space above an efficient heat exchange system. Designers of The Gardens at Arbor Springs incorporated this feature into private residences, marketed as "European courtyard cottages with luxury custom finishes."      

Concealed ductworkLike their conventional counterparts, geothermal systems can employ concealed duct chases within walls or ceilings. The chases blend seamlessly with the interior design while strategically placed supply and return vents add to the discreet look. The TIDES on Grand Cayman Island uses small ducting that lets aesthetics take center stage.  

Custom vent and grate designs – Just as they do with conventional systems, architects can use custom metalwork to create aesthetically pleasing vent and grate covers in both historic and modern structures. Chicago's historic City Hall, the modern Sydney Opera House, and Manhattan's Hearst Tower, which combines historic with modern architecture, all feature custom metalwork grilles that are integrative to their designs.

Adaptive LandscapingAmazon's iconic Spheres in Seattle, Washington, feature lush, indoor gardens with extensive greenery, all directly above a buried geo loop system. The South Waterfront Greenway along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, does the same with landscaped gardens, walking paths, and seating areas.  

Vertical borehole cladding – The glass facade of the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre in Reykjavik, Iceland, incorporates an artistic pattern of hexagonal units, some containing vertical boreholes that are part of the building's geothermal heating and cooling system. The Museo del Acero in Monterrey, Mexico—a steel mill-turned-museum—also incorporates boreholes into its design, as does New York City's Via 57 West, a residential building.   


As a leading geothermal manufacturer, Enertech offers experience and expertise that bring visions for aesthetic beauty and sustainable living to life. Go here to learn about the award-winning L'Avenir Townhomes, an architect's dream sourced by Enertech. Do you want to speak to one of our experts about geothermal in your projects? We're ready to assist. 

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