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Affordable geothermal piling

Nominated by Roger Bullivant.

I design foundations and have put over 30 years into developing a system which is efficient, sustainable and cost effective.

Combining this with affordable geothermal foundations is the greatest advance in construction.

Research we’ve carried out has revealed that there is a natural equilibrium for efficient and economic foundation design: if you keep the pile diameters small, and the length about 3 or 4m, you get a very efficient pile.

Then if you assume say one precast concrete pile with one bar of reinforcement for every 5m2 on a building’s footprint, you have the magic formula. Simple and cost effective!

You end up with lots of piles in the ground, like a mass of porcupine needles, but you can take advantage of the greater ground “contact”.

Combining themwith a solar powered panel on the roof of the building and geothermal loop in each pile, you can use the pile as a heat source in winter and heat sink in summer. Our system called SystemFirst has made geothermal energy, affordable for low cost housing – the pay back is within four years.

Roger Bullivant, a civil and structural engineering fellow, started up foundation specialist company Roger Bullivant Ltd in 1971. The company is now the largest foundation engineering company in the UK with an annual turnover in excess of £120m