Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Owing to Bad Oxygen

The General Theological Seminary in Manhattan is going green.

The seminary was founded in 1817 and is a New York city landmark. The Seminary is undergoing all sorts of renovations, and one of them will be to dig a geothermal well in the parking lot. There's an article about it in the Real Estate section of the Times. I know, I really have to read some other papers...

“When we’re able to disconnect our two boilers that run off gas and oil, we’re able to eliminate 1,400 tons of carbon emissions” in a year, said Dennis Frawley, project manager for redevelopment of the campus.

Geothermal heating systems, I've been attempting to vaguely understand this morning, draw on the core heat of the earth for both heat and cooling systems. There is an entire city in Iceland, Reykjavik, that runs on this type of energy. I'm thinking at least a pilgrimage is in order -- to see the Northern lights and swim in a hot spring. I knew when I said I wanted to move to Greenland I meant Iceland. (Language! One of the earliest propaganda campaigns is still working.)

The master plan for the seminary is “green.” The idea is to install geothermal wells for all 19 buildings.

“There’s no other way to go; it was the right thing to do for the earth,” said Dean Ewing, who is renovating his historic Tennessee homestead in a similarly environmentally conscious manner. “The economic payoff in energy savings won’t come for more than a decade, but it’s worth it.”

The coolest thing I found was in an article about the original groundbreaking of one of the seminary's buildings. An article from the Times, published on January 26, 1884, the paper reported:

Assistant Bishop Potter, remarking that any ecclesiastical occasion like the present was incomplete without the presence of a foreign Bishop, introduced Bishop Scarborough of New Jersey, who believed that architecture had a great effect upon men and upon students. He also believed that when students felt their lecture was dull it was owing to bad oxygen...

Okay -- now once we get past the fun thinking of New Jersey as foreign, or simply being able to access articles on-line from 1884, it's so great that these are the people digging geothermal wells in the middle of Manhattan nearly 200 years later.

And the last line made my day. Owing to bad oxygen... What if all of our feeling of dullness in regards to what we take in is owing to bad oxygen? What if we could fix the air, one room and one building at a time? What if, then, not only would the air be clean and food be more reasonably priced, but our interactions, too, would take on a new luster? Isn't it a thought -- anything in our lives lacking in intensity, force or brilliance, suddenly, with that new air, could take on saturation and sensory life...

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