A Hill District church is now using water from an abandoned underground mine to heat and cool its building. It's believed to be the first geothermal heating system that uses mine water. The system is expected to cut heating costs at John Wesley AME Zion Church by up to 80%, and cooling costs by half.
The mine water was once a liability for the church. The pressure underground had been so great that the water seeped into the church's basement. Sidewalks on Herron Avenue would be coated with ice in the winter. Tapping the water for the geothermal system has eliminated the flooding problems.
Pastor Calvin Cash says his church really needs the savings. The church had been closed for several years before Cash arrived, and its sanctuary remains unusable. Cash says they need to build new walls and repair the building's roof.
But Cash says he also hopes this will be just the start of a bigger green movement along Herron Avenue. The geothermal system can accommodate another 40,000 square feet of building space. Cash says he'd like to see shops with housing for seniors on upper floors.