GEOEG has contributed to the design and construction of a highly innovative building – the Discovery Learning Laboratory (DLL) at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). This building offers modular workplaces dedicated to practical work in electricity, electronics, optics, robotics, and communication for bachelor students at EPFL. For this project, GEOEG performed the energy design and construction survey of an energy foundation comprising micropiles, walls, and slabs in contact with the ground that were equipped with pipe heat exchangers to harvest renewable shallow geothermal energy. This design has provided a solution that will meet 100% of the thermal energy requirements of the DLL in combination with the local district heating network.
For the energy design, a 3D finite element model allowed a comprehensive simulation of such installation. In total, 450 m2 of slab and walls and 176 m of micropiles were equipped with pipe heat exchangers, for a total pipe length of 1990 m. Based on a thorough simulation of the building operation, the piping network embedded in the geothermal foundations, and the local geological conditions, the dynamic performance of the system was investigated to determine the nominal power and supplied thermal energy to the building, in line with the design requirements set by the SIA 384/6.


3-D numerical modeling of a system of energy micro-piles, slabs, walls for renewable heating and cooling.

Technical drawings of the designed geothermal foundation were produced to serve optimal installation of the piping networks on site. The realization of the geothermal installation was performed by a local construction company, which was accompanied by GEOEG. A monitoring system was eventually installed for performance monitoring and potential optimization purposes in the years to come.

Implementation of energy geostructures in the Discovery Learning Lab. © GEOEG