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Geothermal Heat & Cooling in Historic Fayetteville Home Shows How Fossil-Fuel Free Tech Adapts

Chris Bolt/WAER News

A geothermal heating and cooling system in an historic Fayetteville home is being used as a model to help expand the use of the technology.  The installation was honored by a state-wide organization, NY Geo, for its innovation and role in reducing climate change.

William Sunderlin bought the home of Linnaeus Noble, who ran an abolitionist newspaper … and more famously published Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Sunderlin notes the social change of Noble, and Suffragist Matilda Jocelyn Gage who lived right across the street, motivated his project.

“Doing the right thing means not only continuing the unfinished business of seeking racial and gender justice, and recognition of indigenous rights, but also addressing a new and daunting global challenge:  the climate crisis.  As a climate scientist I am painfully aware that we are way overdue in giving serious attention to climate change.”

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM
Equipment for the system in Sunderlin's basement, which had to be renovated as part of the project.

Sunderlin thought the project could show others that retro-fitting geo-thermal into existing homes is possible, while reducing his carbon impact. 

John Manning helped found N-Y Geo, an industry group that advances geo-thermal and is trying to expand its use.  Manning himself marvels at the work done outside and in the basement of the 1829 home.

“We have 3 420-foot wells in the driveway here.  If you look out there, you would never even know they’re there.  It’s just awesome, because all the heat, the hot water for the home and the cooling for the home is from those wells.  The very best thing you’ll see downstairs it the gas line that comes through the wall is capped off … that’s the best thing.”

All heat, cooling and hot water come from the system, burning no fossil fuels.  NY-Geo awarded the system it’s installation of the year. 

Senator Rachel May attended and says expanding geo-thermal heating and cooling technology is important to the goals of the Climate and Community Protection Act, which she’s pushing in Albany. 

“We have to figure out how this can be used in affordable housing, how it can be applied in large business projects, how it can become something that everybody can experience.  And that means bringing the cost down.”

It’s also important, she says, to change minds in order to get more people to accept geo-thermal systems, both in existing homes, and in new construction. 


Heat Smart CNY is a community-based program to help people learn about both geo-thermal and air-source heat pumps for non-fossil fuel heating and cooling.  It’s a program of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board and Alliance for a Green Economy.  They are sponsoring several open houses for people to learn more:

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.