British Geological Survey: Geothermal Heat Pump Project

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has announced a £1.7m geothermal heat pump project at its headquarters in Nottinghamshire, in a bid to achieve its carbon emissions reduction goals by 2040.

British Geological Survey: Geothermal Heat Pump Project

At a glance:
Who: British Geological Survey (BGS)
What: Geothermal heat pump project
Where: BGS headquarters in Nottinghamshire, UK
Why: To decarbonise operations, reduce heating bills and advance net-zero ambitions
When: Project officially underway, expected completion within three months

The challenge

The British Geological Survey encountered a challenge at its Rushcliffe base, where the installation of gas boilers contributed to the generation of nearly 30 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. This reliance on fossil fuels not only posed environmental concerns but also escalated heating costs for the organisation. In line with its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040, BGS recognised the imperative to mitigate its carbon footprint, necessitating a fundamental shift in its heating infrastructure.

The solution

BGS is implementing a geothermal heat pump system, consisting of 28 boreholes drilled to a depth of 225m, to heat its buildings. This renewable energy system replaces gas boilers and is anticipated to significantly reduce carbon emissions and heating costs.

How the project works

The geothermal heat pump system uses the Earth’s natural heat to warm buildings. Heat from the ground is extracted through boreholes and transferred into the buildings via a heat pump, providing sustainable heating throughout the year.

Forming part of BGS’s Keyworth campus decarbonisation plans, the new energy system involves the removal of gas boilers and will heat two buildings on the Keyworth site, where more than 400 members of staff work, including tenants and non-BGS staff.

The heating system will also benefit from advanced monitoring, which will assess the running costs and efficiency of the heat pumps.

The project will constitute a ‘living laboratory’, with sensors deployed in the heat extraction boreholes and buildings. The technology will provide data in real time to help increase the public’s understanding of ground-source heat pumps and how they can be an effective solution for heating both new and existing buildings in the UK.

The project has been delivered in partnership with multi-disciplinary consultancy Pick Everard, which provided the initial designs alongside main civils contractor Cenergist, and multi-disciplinary services on site including project management, quantity surveying, building services, geo-environmental and health and safety consultancy.

The results

The project is estimated to save BGS approximately 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, aligning with its sustainability targets.

Business benefits

Benefits of the project include decarbonising operations, reducing heating bills and fostering collaboration within the industry, further enhancing BGS’s reputation.

The project also provides a leading case study for other organisations, such as schools and hospitals, that are thinking of switching from fossil fuel boilers to clean heat pumps.


The project is predominantly funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), with a further contribution from the UK government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, and is expected to yield substantial savings in heating costs over its lifespan.

Industry context

BGS operates under the umbrella of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and serves as a research centre within the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The UK government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, overseen by the Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero (DESNZ) and executed by Salix Finance, plays a crucial role in funding sustainable initiatives like BGS’s ground-source heat pump installation. This project aligns with UKRI’s overarching goal of attaining net-zero emissions by 2040, reflecting a broader industry trend towards adopting environmentally responsible practices and technologies.

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