THE POTENTIAL OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY FOR SPACE HEATING IN INSTITUTIONAL BUILDINGS A CASE OF GILGIL

Abstract
This study investigates the potential of geothermal space heating systems as a solution for thermal discomfort caused by temperature
inversion in Gilgil town. The scope of the stud is limited to institutional buildings since geothermal heating systems are expensive and
are not financially feasible for residential buildings.
This research is therefore in two parts where the first objective is to identify the thermal discomfort caused by temperature inversion
in institutional buildings in Gilgil. The second part is a study on the performance of a geothermal space heating system in Hotel Verde
in Cape town, South Africa. in a bid to ascertain its viability as a space heating strategy.
Reviewed literature indicates that the micro-climate effect experienced in Gilgil town is a result of the topography of the Rift valley highlands,
Aberdare Ranges. Similar conditions have been found to occur in Nakuru, Naivasha, Kericho and the Taita Hills. Further reading
on the use of geothermal heating systems in European countries like Iceland revealed the immense advantages inherent if the systems
are well planned and installed. In Iceland for instance geothermal water is used to heat the entire city of Reykjavik.
This study embarked on a field study and collected data from three case studies. Utumishi Boys Academy and St Peter’s Elite School
in Gilgil were chosen to study thee impact of temperature inversion in institutional buildings in Gilgil. the units of research in those two
cases were the classrooms and dormitory spaces in order to account for the 24 hour cycle of the students space occupancy. Hotel
Verde in Cape Town South Africa was used to ascertain the performance and viability of its industrial scale geothermal heating system,,
the largest in Africa. Two hotel rooms were used for thermal data collection which was done during the winter season when the heating
demand is at its peak. Other variables used for data analysis include materials of enclosure, building orientation,and fenestration design.
Data from the case studies in Gilgil indicate the presence of thermal discomfort in the various buildings studied at different periods
of their occupation. This was mainly experienced at night and early mornings with external temperatures dropping to as low as 10°C.
From Hotel verde the data proved the efficiency of the geothermal system to supply pre-heated air at 21°C when external temperatures
were as low as 8°C. Materials of enclosure and fenestration design strongly emerged as factors affecting thermal comfort in buildings.
Several conclusions were made from the research findings. Top on the list was that indeed geothermal space heating systems are a viable
solution for the thermal discomfort experienced in institutional buildings in Gilgil. Further, Fenestration design in Gilgil should b done
in double glazed windows to provide insulation during the cold nights and early mornings.

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