A Geothermal Well in Manhattan

Matthew Adam Properties is committed to promoting and implementing “Green” systems wherever possible in properties it manages. In fact, points out President and CEO Ira Meister, the firm has its own Sustainability Department headed by a LED certified professional.

One of the more unusual projects for the firm was the installation of a geothermal well in a small, multi-family co-op it manages on East 93rd Street.

“Many are surprised to hear that we were working with engineers to install a geothermal well in Manhattan, and while it is unusual, it is not the first,” Meister says.  “It is estimated there are about 100 geothermal projects in the five boroughs, mainly in institutional buildings, such as the Times Square TKTS Booth, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the Queens Botanical Garden.”

In Manhattan, Meister points out, most building sites tend to be small, so the wells are vertical.  The building on East 93rd Street is in the Carnegie Hill section of Manhattan, which is higher than other areas, which facilitated the drilling.  The wells usually go to a depth of 1,500 feet. 

Use the Natural Energy of the Earth to Heat Your Buildings

Geothermal energy systems use the earth’s constant temperature to heat and cool buildings.  They are dug to the level where the earth maintains the water temperature at a constant level.  Actually, the systems are not wells, but a series of pipes.  Here is how it works.  In winter, the warm water is drawn from the earth through a series of pipes using the natural warmth of the water to deliver it to a heat pump inside the property, which transfers it to the air circulated though interior ductwork to heat the interior.

In summer, Meister says, the process is reversed and heat is extracted from the air inside the building and transferred into the earth.  The system also uses some of the heat generated to provide hot water.

Geothermal Systems are More Efficient Then Conventional Heating

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that geothermal systems are 75 percent more efficient than oil furnaces, 48 percent more efficient that gas furnaces and 40 percent better than air source heat pumps.

The expense varies depending on the size of the property and the extent of the drilling, but it is estimated that costs are recovered in from two to eight years.  In addition to the energy savings, tax credits may be available as well as financial assistance from NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), which promotes the use of alternative energy technologies.

Other positive factors, Meister points out, are lower maintenance costs since the systems do not burn fossil fuels, which require cleaning and upkeep of the fuel and gas systems.  In addition, the pipes in the system are warranted for 50 years and the above ground equipment of 25 to 30 years, about twice the life expectancy of a furnace or other conventional systems.

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