Energy Geostructures

Soil mechanics laboratory

The application of environmentally friendly technologies that exploit renewable energy sources is key to follow international agreements and directives for the development of carbon neutral buildings and infrastractures. Energy geostructures are an innovative, multifunctionaltechnology that can be used to address the aforementioned challenge. By coupling the role of the ground structures with that of the geothermal heat exchangers, energy geostructures such as so-called energy piles, energy walls and energy tunnels can serve as structural supports as well as heating and cooling elements for buildings and infrastructures.
The analysis and design of energy geostructures requires the integrated knowledge of various, multidisciplinary aspects in the broad field of engineering. The reason for this is because energy geostructures are subjected to the unprecedented combined action of both thermal and mechanical loads, which govern their energy, geotechnical and structural response via multiphysical interaction with the subsurface.
Typical questions that arise in this framework are as follows: What multiphysical phenomena are associated with the geothermal and structural support operations of energy geostructures? How should energy geostructures be analysed and designed from an energy, geotechnical and structural point of view? What will be the behaviour and performance of energy geostructures over time?
The research we perform at the LMS is centred on, without being limited to, the understanding and solution of these questions and problems. The basis of our work consists of observing, measuring, understanding and predicting how energy geostructures behave from a multiphysical perspective. Our goal is to ensure an optimal energy, geotechnical and structural performance of this technology. As a practical application, our work provides answers to actual questions of practitioners and contributes to the dissemination of the energy geostructure technology.

Research Group for Energy Geostructures:



Scientific assistants


Current Research Projects:

Assessing and Exploiting the Interaction Between Ventilation and Geothermal Systems in Energy Tunnels

Energy tunnels represent innovative, proven concept for producing renewable heating/cooling energy. Existing studies that characterize thermal behavior of energy tunnels do not consider the interaction with ventilation systems. Most tunnels are equipped with a ventilation system and there is significant potential for optimization to achieve more efficient exploitation of the existing potential. This includes e.g. the ability of the tunnel heat exchanger to recover energy in the form of heat  that would otherwise have to be evacuated through mechanical ventilation, and the ventilation impact on the energy design of the heat exchangers.  Ventilation systems represent a major environmental and economic factor in tunnel construction and operation. Energy tunnel considerations could reduce ventilation requirements, as heat could be recovered by the heat exchanger, reducing the investment and operational cost of the ventilation system and leading to a more energy-efficient system. Understanding and exploiting the synergies of heat exchangers with the ventilation system requires a multiphysics approach considering thermo-hydro-mechanical aspects.  Amberg Engineering and EPFL’s Laboratory of Soil Mechanics propose a collaboration for creating scientific insight, empiric data and a methodology to incorporate these aspects in underground design.

Involved persons: Prof. Dr. Lyesse Laloui, Dr. Elena Ravera, Sofie Ten Bosch



To former projects and publications



publication thumbnail

Analysis and Design of Energy Geostructures,1st Edition: Theoretical Essentials and Practical Application

Lyesse Laloui; Rotta Loria

Analysis and Design of Energy Geostructures gathers in a unified framework the theoretical and experimental competence available on energy geostructures: innovative multifunctional earth-contact structures that can provide renewable energy supply and structural support to any built environment. The book covers the broad, interdisciplinary and integrated knowledge required to address the analysis and design of energy geostructures from energy, geotechnical and structural perspectives.

Academic Press

1st November 2019

Hardcover ISBN: 9780128206232


Ravera, E., & Laloui, L. Soils and Foundations, 62(3), 101152.

Rotta Loria, A. F., Richard, N., & Laloui, L. Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment, 100333.

Cassina, L., Laloui, L., & Rotta Loria, A. F.  Renewable Energy.

Zannin, J., Ferrari, A., Kazerani, T., Koliji, A., & Laloui, L. Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment, 29, 100275.


Houhou, R., Sutman, M., Sadek, S., & Laloui, L., Engineering Geology, 287, 105928.

Garbellini, C., & Laloui, L., Géotechnique, 71(3), 260-271.

Laloui, L., & Sutman, M., Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment, 27, 100214.

Zannin, J., Ferrari, A., Pousse, M., & Laloui, L., Underground Space, 6(2), 173-184.

Zannin, J., Ferrari, A., Kazerani, T., Koliji, A., & Laloui, L., Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment, 29, 100275.

Adinolfi, M., Loria, A. F. R., Laloui, L., & Aversa, S., Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment, 25, 100208.


Ravera, E., Sutman, M., & Laloui, L., Canadian Geotechnical Journal.

Zannin, J., Ferrari, A., Larrey-Lassalle, P., & Laloui, L., Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment100218.

Zannin, J., Loria, A. F. R., Llabjani, Q., & Laloui, L., Computers and Geotechnics 128, 103618.

A.F.R. Loria, J.V.C. Oltra, L. Laloui, Computers and Geotechnics 120, 103410.

  • Hydrothermal interactions in energy walls

J. Zannin, A. Ferrari, M. Pousse, L. Laloui, Underground Space.

A.F.R. Loria, M. Bocco, C. Garbellini, A. Muttoni, L. Laloui, Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment 21, 100153, DOI: 10.1016/j.gete.2019.100153.

M. Sutman, G. Speranza, A. Ferrari, P. Larrey-Lassalle, L. Laloui, Renewable Energy 146, 1177-1191, DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2019.07.035.

C. Garbellini, L. Laloui,  Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, DOI: 10.1061/9780784482780.005.

Elena Ravera, Melis Sutman,  Lyesse Laloui, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental


C. Garbellini, L. Laloui,Géotechnique, 1-12, DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.19.p.208.

Elena Ravera, Melis Sutman,  Lyesse Laloui, Computers and Geotechnics,

Benoît Cousin, Alessandro F.Rotta Loria, Andrew Bourget, Fabrice Rognon, Lyesse Laloui, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology DOI: 10.1016/j.tust.2019.102997,  2019




Tech – Transfer

We developed the first geo-thermal panel that efficiently captures both geothermal and waster heat in existing indoor environments located in the underground and transfers it for renewable heating and cooling to buildings. Unlike conventional geothermal systems, the technology developed relies on a non-invasive installation, allowing the use of shallow geothermal energy in existing buildings. The modular geo-thermal panels are meant to be installed in existing underground indoor environments such as underground parking, underground transportation hubs, tunnels etc. With the modular geo-thermal panels we facilitate access to renewable shallow geothermal energy to existing buildings while reducing capital investments, operation costs and CO2 emissions.