The energy used for cooling accounts for almost 10 percent of the energy use from a typical large building in New York City. There are many options for improving cooling efficiency.

Central Cooling Systems

Central cooling systems include central chilled water systems — which consist of chillers, cooling towers, and other equipment — or base-building condenser water loops that serve the entire building.

  • Upgrade the chiller to a higher efficiency model.
  • Optimize temperature sensors and controls for the chiller plant.
  • Install a building management system (BMS) to better control temperatures based on sensor feedback from multiple occupant spaces.
  • Monitor and calibrate supplemental cooling equipment, which are typically found in resident spaces.
  • Install variable frequency drives on motors and pumps that distribute conditioned air and/or chilled water throughout the building.

Additional measures can improve the cooling system as a whole.

  • Install insulation on pipes and ducts to reduce heat loss.
  • Seal loose connections in ductwork to prevent air leaks.
  • Ensure air filters are properly installed and free of debris to improve efficiency.

Non-Central Cooling Systems

Non-central cooling systems provide cooling to individual rooms or specific zones of a building. These systems include packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs), window air conditioners, through-wall air conditioners, and air-cooled packaged units. In New York City buildings, non-central cooling systems are more common than central cooling systems.

  • Replace old air conditioning units with newer, more efficient models.
  • Install smart controls on air conditioners to automate temperature settings.
  • Install unit covers or insulation on room air conditioning units.
  • Install an air source heat pump to replace a packaged rooftop air conditioner unit.

Technology Primers

Cooling System Resources