The country’s largest—and New York City’s oldest—Catholic Gothic cathedral is embarking on a new energy-efficient era. The Archdiocese of New York recently revealed that the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue has been outfitted with a rather ingenious geothermal heating and cooling system.
A set of ten wells have been drilled up to 2,250 feet through the Manhattan schist below the floor of the popular landmark. These wells are hooked up to a water circulation loop linking the cathedral, a fancy ground source heating/cooling plant, and the earth. When fully operational, St. Patrick’s geothermal system will be capable of generating 2.9 million BTUs of air conditioning an hour, and 3.2 million BTUs of heating an hour. That’s in a soaring 76,000-square-foot space, mind you.
Not only will it make temperature easier to regulate, but the system is also poised to shrink the massive stone building’s energy needs by more than 30 percent and cut its CO2 emissions by 94,000 kilograms. Environmental considerations like these have been encouraged by Pope Francis and other high-ranking members of the Catholic Church in recent years.
“A consistent ethic of life does not compartmentalize these issues. It prioritizes life and the preservation of life at every level,” said Cathedral Rector Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, according to Inhabitat. “One of the most basic ways in which we are called to do so is through responsible stewardship of our natural resources.”
This update is an extension of a $177 million renovation that wrapped up in 2015, just in time for Pope Francis’s visit to New York City in 2015.