I’ve been hearing rumors about a geothermally heated townhouse in lower Manhattan for awhile now, and have been meaning to go check it out for almost a year. Now it appears the moment has finally arrived – the geothermal house has just gone on sale. Asking price? A whopping 7.8 million. But just think of all the money you’d save in utilities!

From the Wall Street Journal: “The five-story town house stands in TriBeCa, a few blocks north of the World Trade Center site, and uses an unusual geothermal energy system to provide heating, cooling and hot water. Pipes extend about 1,400 feet into the earth, where the temperature is always about 52 degrees. The pipes transfer energy to the house, where two-layer-thick concrete exterior walls, filled with thermal materials, trap the energy and distribute it. (All floors also have radiant heating systems.) The late New York architect and developer John Petrarca designed the property and lived there with his wife, business-journalism professor Sarah Bartlett, until his death from lung cancer in 2003. The project was completed in 2002.”

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You wouldn’t necessarily think that the geologically inactive New York City would be a great place for geothermal energy schemes. Afterall, this isn’t Iceland or Northern California. However, apparently, if you dig deep enough into the surface of the earth, you can tap geothermal energy anywhere. At 1100 feet underground, the geothermal pump for 156 Reade Street is nearly as deep as the Empire State building is tall.

You can read more about the 156 Reade Street building in The Green House, available from Princeton Architectural Press.

Here’s an interesting old article from The New York Times about geothermal energy in New York City: