BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The mixed-use building under construction at 363 Grant Street, in the heart of Buffalo's west side, is the latest sign that this neighborhood is about to undergo a dramatic rebirth.
It includes apartments and street-level retail, but it's one of the most advanced buildings in Buffalo because of what lies underground: nine geowells. The entire building, apartments included, will be heated and cooled using geothermal energy.
"The loop will then circulate to each one of the individual apartments and each apartment will have its own heat pump and thermostat so the tenant can regulate their own temperature," said Chris Siano, HES Properties.
Geothermal heating and cooling uses a small amount of electricity to run the pumps. There's no furnace, no natural gas, and no huge electric bill, thanks to energy 200 feet into the ground.
"That's grabbing the Earth's temperature, at 55 degrees, as an energy source, and literally just brings it up in a pipe," said Larry LaDuca, Natale Builders vice president. "It's very simple technology, runs it through a condenser or compressor, turning that 55 degree temperature into either heat or cooling."
This can save a property owner thousands in energy costs, but the upfront investment is high. That's why builders are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the Geothermal Tax Credit, passed by the legislature.
"The governor has a chance here to support 1,000 jobs across New York state," said Bill Nowak, New York Geothermal Energy Organization of Buffalo. "We see he's very interested in supporting energy jobs. This is something that he really needs to get behind."
Especially, Nowak says, since the federal tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year. Without a replacement credit at the state level, developers say it will be impossible to include geothermal systems in their future projects.
A new system can cost as much as $25,000, but with the credits, the price tag is about $6,000 above a conventional heating and cooling system.
"That $6,000 premium, if you consider not having a gas bill for the next 25 years in Buffalo, that's a pretty significant savings," LaDuca said.
The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the Assembly and state Senate, offers the same 25 percent cost-savings as the state's solar tax credit.