Underground German system provides heating and cooling mechanism for Redbridge Council building

A new visitor centre designed by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects for Redbridge Council's Ray Park will be heated and cooled by underground pipes.

German polymer specialist Rehau has installed the 30m network of earth tubes - known as the Awadukt Thermo ground air heat exchanger - 1.5m under the turf next to the Ray Park Visitor Centre, Essex. At that depth, the ground is a constant 8-12°C, which means in summer the pipes remove the need for air conditioning while in winter they reduce the cold weather heating load.

Rehau says this is the first commercial installation of the product in the UK.

Low-carbon consultant XCO2 Energy, which specified the product, will be monitoring its impact on the centre's need for mechanical cooling and heating.