Digging Deep to Future-Proof Energy For a New Architectural Icon 

ESB's Smart Energy Services worked with V&A Dundee, Dundee City Council and Arup to explore energy

solutions for the city’s new design museum.


The Ask

To develop an energy efficient heating solution that would complement the museum’s futuristic architectural design by Japan’s Kengo Kuma & Associates, without visually impacting its impressive visual exterior.

The Challenge

With a site on the banks of the River Tay, just a few kilometers downstream from the North Sea, where the average annual temperature is a cool 8.6ºC, climate was the first of many challenges. The others included the sustainable building obligations and a treasure trove of design artefacts that naturally had to be protected. This, in turn, required a reliable, low-carbon HVAC solution.


“We are very pleased with GI Energy’s sustainable design and performance on V&A Dundee and very excited to have such a high tech, low energy, low carbon solution for all the building’s heating and cooling requirements. This really reflects the ethos of the building being a centre of excellence for design.”- Mike Galloway, former Director of City Development, Dundee City Council

The Solution

Geothermal and Air-sourced energy were determined as the most efficient options. The completed system is comprised of water-to-water heat pumps drawing low grade heating and cooling from a closed-loop bore hole array 200 feet below the site, as well as roof-mounted air-source heat pumps providing top up and back-up. A remote monitoring system ensures around the clock system optimisation, while offering support to on-site facilities staff.

The Competitive Advantage

  • Energy security and supply resilience
  • Control over energy usage and costs
  • Industry-leading sustainability
  • Invisible system has no impact on the building’s appearance
  • 100% electrical system which decarbonises as the national grid
  • No reliance on fossil fuels

The Results

  • 100% of heating, cooling and hot water needs provided for
  • 54% less carbon generated than traditional Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems
  • 103% less energy used than traditional HVAC systems
  • Recorded efficiencies of 397%