Construction will begin soon on a geothermal heating and cooling system that may be the first in the country to use water from an abandoned mine. The system will cut utility bills at least in half at the John Wesley AME Zion Church in the Hill District.
Geothermal systems run water through a heat exchanger to keep buildings at a comfortable temperature. Normally, these types of systems tap into groundwater. But the church sits on top of an abandoned mine that is full of water. In fact, the water pressure was once so great that it seeped into the church's basement and threatened to blow out the whole building. The water is currently being diverted into storm sewers. By the end of this year, the water will be re-directed into the geothermal system.
Pastor Calvin Cash says his church is still seeking funding to cover some of the costs. But in the long run, he anticipates the geothermal system will save enough money to allow for much-needed renovations at the church. Cash also thinks the geothermal system could be a catalyst for new development along the busy Herron Avenue corridor. The system will be built with room to expand to other buildings. The system is expected to begin operating by the end of the year.