Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Cho, Heejin

Committee Member

Li, Like

Committee Member

Mago, Pedro

Committee Member

Zhang, Jian

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Mechanical Engineering


Individual and societal desires for fossiluel independence are an increasingly popular goal. This research investigates residential geothermal space heating and cooling as a viable technical and financial alternative. The road to net-zero energy is then assessed, weighing the benefits and detriments to the consumer. First, the template for location-specific geothermal space heating and cooling is developed through a pilot analysis of a home in Memphis, Tennessee. A methodical process of soil investigation, prototype home characteristics, and financial incentives is designed. Expanding upon existing studies, accurate soil data is extracted from beneath the foundation of a specific address, rather than region-wide soil averages. This high level of precision allows the owner of a specific address to preview realistic results and develop truthful expectations. Payback period and system lifetimes savings are calculated using two methods. Second, the framework developed through the Memphis, Tennessee pilot home is used to investigate 11 additional cities across the continental United States. The increase in breadth uses a representative city from its respective climate zone. While each city within a single climate zone will vary from the representative city, a general climate performance can be determined. With each location’s soil properties and heating and cooling demands, the borefield design and heat pump system capacity is customized and applied for analysis. Using human interest surveys from previous energy projects, a climate is ultimately classified as viable or nonviable for geothermal heating and cooling. Finally, the increasingly popular net-zero energy building concept is explored through a complementary solar photovoltaic (PV) array to the geothermal system. An array capacity is sized and priced to offset the total facility energy use in each climate’s representative city. Once determined, the payback and lifetime savings values are calculated and the GHP + PV system results are compared to a baseline + PV system. From this, a system type is identified as the more viable option for each of the 12 climate zones. The final touch on this research is the introduction of the human perceptions toward environmentally friendly renewable energy in general and how it affects a consumer’s ultimate decision.