Smaller, Smarter Chillers Can Spell Big Savings on Energy Bills


After 20 years of service, the chiller at the Plaza Tower in Lenox Hill was nearing the end of its useful life. The stand-alone unit had generated chilled water to provide air conditioning for the 34-story, 232-unit property at 118 E. 60th St. since 1988, and the co-op board decided the time had come to replace it – not just with a new model, but a much smarter one.

“The problem with the old chiller is that it’s a 500-ton unit, which meant that when you turn it on, you’re always running the power at 500 tons, even if it’s a mild day,” says Ira Meister, president of Matthew Adam Properties, which manages the building. “It was incredibly inefficient.”

To find a solution, the board turned to Bright Power, an energy and water management company, which recommended that the co-op make the switch to a modular chiller system. Modular chillers function exactly the same as the big guys, but each individual unit, which is combined with other modules to make a single larger machine, has its own dedicated power source and can operate independently. The computerized modules “talk” to each other and automatically turn on or off according to energy demands, providing a wide range of cooling capacity. “You’re only using what you need, which translates into big savings,” Meister says. “It was a no-brainer.”


The $940,000 project, which will be completed by mid-April, is being funded entirely by the co-op’s reserves. Once the system is up and running, Bright Power will help secure a rebate from Con Edison. “The amount will be based on the projected energy savings, but it could be as much as $40,000,” says Darren Johnson, the company’s senior account manager for cooperatives and condos.

Read the full article on Habitat’s website.