Ground Source Heat Exchange Systems in Alberta

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Ground Source Heat Exchange Systems, completed above the Base of Groundwater Protection, are regulated under the Water Act, the Water (Ministerial)Regulation [Regulation] and the Directive for Water Wells and Ground Source Heat Exchange Systems [Directive].

Ground source heat exchange systems – or geoexchange systems – take heat from the ground in winter (for heating) and transfer heat back into the ground in summer(for cooling). Such systems,developed for residential, commercial and industrial applications, are energy efficient, substantially reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems and align with the renewable energy goals of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.

Ground source heat exchange systems may be configured as:

•Open-Loop systems, that use groundwater from a water well for the purpose of extracting or rejecting heat by use of a liquid source heat pump.

•Vertical (or Horizontal) Closed-Loop systems,that have a continuous, sealed,underground or submerged heat exchanger (an earth loop)through which a heat-transfer fluid (an anti-freeze solution) is continuously recirculated to and from a heat pump. Earth loops are installed and grouted into a series (or field) of vertical closed-loop ground source heat exchange wells (cased or uncased boreholes) or into horizontal trenches.

To work in Alberta, as of January 1, 2020, contractors drilling vertical closed-loop ground source heat exchange well will be required to have a current Approval to Drill and a class F well license.

Classes of Approval

An Approval to Drill Water Wells is required for contractors drilling water wellsfor open-loop systems. For details, see the fact sheet Drilling Water Wells in Alberta at

Waterwells for open-loop geoexchange systems may also require licensing under the Water Act. The application for licensing is available at

An Approval to Drill and Reclaim Vertical Closed-Loop Ground Source Heat ExchangeWells will be required, as of January 1, 2020, for contractors drillingboreholes and installing earth loops in vertical closed-loop ground source heatexchange systems completed above the Base of Groundwater Protection.

Approval may be issued to a certified journeyman Earth Loop Technician(ELT) or to abusiness owner who provides proof of employment of a certified journeyman EarthLoop Technician to operate the drilling machine, drill the boreholes andinstall and grout the earth loops.

Certification of Earth Loop Technician is done through Apprenticeship and Industry Training,Alberta Advanced Education. For details of this program visit

Application for either Approval to Drill is available at:

©2018Government of Alberta | Published: December 2018


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