St. Patrick's Cathedral digs deep for modernizing

Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the historic landmark on 5th Avenue, has been under-going a modernizing transformation.

Engineers have installed a maze of new pipes so the 140-year-old building can now be heated and cooled with something called "geothermal technology".

Richard Sileo is the  lead engineer on the project.  He said it is a very green technology.

"We don't utilize any fossil fuels in order to heat," Sileo says.

His team uses the earth's energy to heat and cool the building.  By  drilling deep wells around the  outside of the cathedral they can now extract heat from bedrock below the surface.

Using electric pumps  water is pushed into  pipes inside the building transporting  heat into the cathedral.  The process happens in reverse in the summer.   Heat is pulled out of the building and transferred back into the bedrock.

"In the summertime we are depositing heat into the earth and cooling the building and in the winter time we are extraplating heat out of the earth," Sileo says.

Jeffrey Murphy is the lead architect on the project.

"You take this stone panel up and you can access the well head and you can do any sort of servicing you need to do to that," Murphy says.

Each well, and there are ten of them, is hidden under a small plaque. The team has been working for ten years restoring the look of the majestic church.

Visitors may notice the beauty of the renovations inside but they are not likely to see the changes to the heating and cooling system and that is by design.

"What was so appropriate about a geo-thermal system is that it's basically invisible the way we deliver heating and cooling disappears in this project," Murphy says.

Saint Patrick's cathedral is now more energy- efficient.  Work was already underway when Pope Francis declared protecting the environment to be a priority for Christians.

"It's always our mission as professionals to be energy conscience and environmentally sound and mindful to hear that was his mission reinforced all of the goals we had at the onset of the project," Sileo said.

Murphy added, "Stewardship of the earth is a Christian value this project dove tailed well with what I think the church is here."