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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




City's First Multi-Family Geothermal Building Rises on Coney Island

Coney Island, Brooklyn

Geothermal energy, co-ops and condos, renewable energy, Local Law 97, carbon emissions, fossil fuels.

Geothermal energy taps into underground heat instead of using fossil fuels to power building systems.

May 30, 2023

New York City’s first multi-family geothermal project, a 16-story, 463-unit tower at 1515 Surf Ave. on Coney Island, has topped out, 6sqft reports. The building’s geothermal system will tap into the heat that's stored underground and use it to heat and cool the property and power its water systems, eliminating the need for equipment that would run on fossil fuels.

The building's developer, LCOR, worked with Ecosave on the design and installation of the geothermal system, which is expected to reduce 1515 Surf Avenue’s carbon emissions by over 60% — the Holy Grail for larger buildings, including co-ops and condos, that must comply with Local Law 97's carbon emission caps beginning next year. Habitat recently featured a $6.1 million Ecosave project at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, which entails installation of a gas-fired power plant and LED lighting, replacement of 245 fan coil units, improvements to ventilation systems, installation of smart sub-meters and more. The annual energy savings are 32%, or $769,000. Ecosave’s annual service fee is $683,000, meaning the client pockets $86,000 a year — without having to spend a dime.

Geothermal is not as widely discussed as other renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear. But it is beginning to catch on in New York City. St. Patrick’s Cathedral has a geothermal system fed by 10 bore holes, known as wells, that reach more than 2,000 feet deep into Manhattan bedrock. And the massive 1,486-unit Amalgamated Housing Cooperative in the Bronx has been awarded one of six $100,000 grants by the $50 million Empire Building Challenge as part of its campaign to decarbonize high-rise buildings.

The co-op will partner with En-Power Group and Egg Geo to utilize SHARC Energy technology to develop a roadmap for installing a system that will combine two sources of renewable energy: geothermal and wastewater energy transfer (WET). This carbon-neutral pairing could provide all the heating, cooling and domestic hot water for the 316 units in Towers I and II at the 13-building complex — and help the co-op take a major step toward complying with Local Law 97.

The Coney Island project will boast the largest active geothermal system in the city’s history when completed next year — until Greenpoint’s 1 Java Street wraps up in 2025. Consisting of 830 rental units in five buildings, the Greenpoint development will be the largest all-electric multi-family geothermal project in the state.

Another major net-zero project coming to New York is Arverne East, a sustainable, mixed-use development project on the oceanfront in Far Rockaway, Queens. It will consist of 1,650 apartments, the majority of them affordable, a nature preserve, and several sustainability measures, including geothermal heating and passive house design. Upon completion, the development will be one of the most sustainable of its kind in the country.

As New Yorkers are beginning to realize, there's more than one way to comply with Local Law 97.

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