Cool financial institutions in New York--really


Occupants of Manhattan skyscrapers have turned to ice as an energy-saving solution to cooling their building.

The system, in which chilly air is pumped from blocks of ice, saves money and reduces strain on New York's electrical grid, which is heavily overloaded on hot summer days as thousands of buildings crank up their air conditioning.

Supporters say ice cooling is also greener. Although electricity is needed to make the ice, 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 through the building. At night the water is frozen again and the cycle repeated.

Ice storage can be used as the sole cooling system or to reduce reliance on conventional air conditioning.

A system in the Credit Suisse offices at the Metropolitan Life tower is equal to taking 223 cars off the streets or planting 1.9 million acres of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

In the bank's basement, three main cooling rooms house freezing machines and 64 tanks that each hold 800 gallons of water. Credit Suisse has a traditional air conditioning system but engineers use the energy-saving system first. Officials said the bank's ice storage lowered its overall electric usage by 2.15 million kilowatt-hours a year, enough to power about 200 homes.

Trane Energy Services, which built the Credit Suisse system in four months, has developed ice storage for Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Credit Suisse is considering installing the systems in its offices around the world.


The bad news is in the last paragraph. "Although subsidised by the state of New York, ice storage technology is very expensive and requires considerable space."

The system sounds similar to what has been described as the first air conditioning system in Texas. The Brown family in Beaumont made a fortune in the original oil boom and Mrs. Brown decided the Baptist Church she attended could benefit from some cooling so she had a system set up where blocks of ice were placed in front fans that blew on the congregation.

It seems clear that the money saved on the electric bill would not cover the cost of purchasing and operating the equipment. Like solar and other alternatives, they are just not competitive at current the cost of electricity.


  1. The bad news is in the last paragraph. "Although subsidised by the state of New York, ice storage technology is very expensive and requires considerable space.

    My comment:

    Partial ice storage, a strategy which most cooling engineers deploy because is uses resources the best, takes up about 1/2 of 1% of the conditioned space. This is a similar percentage of space a water heater requires in a 2000 sq. ft. home. Not much at all and the ice tanks can go inside or outside.

    In new commerical construction where chilled water air conditions systems are used, a properly designed partial ice storage system will cost little more than a conventional design - in most cases. Urban areas will cost a little more because space and labor costs are generally higher that suburban areas. In many projects the ice storage is the same in costs because smaller equipment is used and design synergies can be employed saving capital costs.


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