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      Drills find energy source 90 feet below Salina Street

      R ight now the 300 block of South Salina Street in Syracuse, also known as the Pike Block, looks like an eyesore of old crumbling vacant buildings. In a few weeks, construction will begin to transform four buildings into upscale urban living space. When the buildings were constructed a century ago, little thought was given to energy conservation. But the renovated Pike Block will feature green initiatives including:

      - solar thermal domestic water heating

      - a white roof to reflect heat

      - high efficiency LED lighting

      - rainwater collection for toilets and

      - a geo-thermal heating and air conditioning system.

      Sam Cosamano of IPD Engineering told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "We realized there was an aquifer below us and we wanted to at least explore that opportunity."

      Earlier t his week VIP Development Associates and IPD Engineering drilled into the earth below downtown Syracuse. Just 90 feet down, they tapped into an ancient salt water aquifer. Cosamano was pleased because the water was a constant year round 50 degrees. Now they'll drill another well to form a loop from which they can heat and cool the Pike Block with the help of a heat exchanger. "Summertime we'll extract energy which we'll put energy into the earth... Wintertime we'll be extracting heat out of the earth." he said.

      VIP Development figures t he geo-thermal systems could cut energy costs as much as 70 percent in the winter and 50 percent in the summer.

      C harl es W allace of VIP Development envisions turning downtown Syracuse into a neighborhood with upscale urban apartments on the upper floors with restaurants and retail shops on the ground level. The $27 million Pike Block project will feature classic architecture with modern environmentally friendly innovations like geo-thermal energy. "We're looking to play off what's been done in Armory Square and extend that development onto the Salina Street block."

      W allace says potential tenants are already contacting him even before construction has begun.