Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GreeN: Ice instead of Air Conditioning in NYC

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An ice-cooling system in the Credit Suisse offices at the historic Metropolitan Life tower in Manhattan is as good for the environment as taking 223 cars off the streets or planting 1.9 million acres of trees to absorb the carbon dioxide caused by electrical usage for one year.

In the basement, three main cooling rooms house chilling machines and 64 tanks that hold 800 gallons of water each. Credit Suisse has a traditional air conditioning system, but engineers use the more efficient system first.

Electricity is needed to make the ice, so water is frozen in large silver tanks at night when power demands are low. The cool air emanating from the ice blocks is then piped throughout the building more or less like traditional air conditioning. At night the water is frozen again and the cycle repeats.

Trane, the air-conditioning arm of American Standard, also developed a system for Morgan Stanley's Westchester County offices, and just completed a new system for its offices on Fifth Avenue. A new Goldman Sachs headquarters will also have ice cooling. Credit Suisse is looking at installing the systems in offices around the globe, but nothing has been decided yet.

The technology isn't for every office space. There has to be room to install the large tanks. And costs are considerable: Credit Suisse spent more than $3 million to renovate its cooling system; and Morgan Stanley's costs were comparable, which means the technology is best suited to large companies.

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