Deputy Secretary of Energy Turk Visits St. Patrick's Cathedral
By: Steven Schwankert
Trusted community figures and organizations, including parish priests and archdioceses, can create an energy-efficient example for others to follow
United States Deputy Secretary of Energy David M. Turk visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral Thursday, specifically to tour America’s Parish Church’s geothermal heating and cooling system.
The Cathedral’s active geothermal plant is comprised of 10 wells which have been drilled along the north and south sides of the Cathedral to a depth of up to 2,200 feet. At the heart of the system is a dedicated heat recovery chiller that extracts thermal energy from the underground system of wells and distributes it throughout the campus for heating and cooling purposes, according to the Cathedral’s website.
Turk said he came to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to see “some of the leaders and first movers, and see how their implementation and adoption drives costs down, whether it’s churches or average people who want to do the right thing” in terms of clean energy. “We want to celebrate those people and nudge them along,” he said, adding that trusted community figures and organizations, including parish priests and archdioceses, can create an example for others to follow.
The Archdiocese of New York and St. Patrick’s Cathedral saw in this project, launched in 2017, the opportunity to lead by example in choosing a sustainable energy solution. The geothermal plant represents not only the cleanest and most cost-effective long-term option for power but also the most responsible.
Heating, cooling, and lighting can account for as much as 25 to 30 percent of a parish’s annual expenditure, according to Martin Susz, director of energy management for the Archdiocese of New York, who accompanied Dep. Sec. Turk during his visit.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s geothermal plant is the most extensive of its kind in the Archdiocese of New York, but other energy-reduction and green energy initiatives are underway throughout the archdiocese.
“While we are extremely proud of the geothermal system at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we are equally proud of the many energy efficiency initiatives implemented at our parishes and schools throughout the Archdiocese of New York, including LED lighting upgrades, rooftop solar systems, and ways to tighten the building envelope, all of which help reduce our carbon footprint, save energy expense and help deliver on Laudato Si: Care for our Common Home,” Susz said.