According to The New York Times, advocates for geothermal energy say that the path of destruction cut by Hurricane Sandy, which unearthed fuel tanks, ravaged cooling towers and battered air-conditioners, has already persuaded some building owners to switch to geothermal systems that use underground pipes to harness the earth’s energy for heating and cooling buildings.

Half-empty and empty oil tanks were found floating around flooded areas after the storm. Since geothermal does not use fossil fuels and has no mechanical systems exposed to the elements, Sandy victims soon began making inquiries about geothermal systems just days after the storm.

Because digging geothermal wells can be expensive and logistically difficult, the systems have been slow to catch on in New York City, The New York Times reported. Yet over the last decade, the number of geothermal heat pump systems in the city has grown steadily. More geothermal systems are installed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the United States. Most systems are being installed in institutional buildings, multifamily residential buildings and relatively small commercial buildings.