Along with Austin Energy, we see a near-self-sustaining campus as equally business-friendly and Earth-friendly. With energy costs skyrocketing, the reduction of operating expenses is increasingly more important for business and the environment. A good place to begin, then, is a cooling system, one of the biggest waste-generating aspects of a structure.

With Trane, we’ve found that adding thermal energy storage to an HVAC system can dramatically reduce energy costs. How? By shifting operation from high-to-low-cost times of the day. That’s why one of the most noteworthy design features of TECH 3443’s campus is its high-efficiency chilled water plant — Phase One of which is currently underway. This Trane-created cooling plant uses thermal ice storage to maintain a comfortable temperature.

The initial plant design provides for 3,000 tons of ice — including forty-eight (48) 25-ton ice storage tanks — which allows the generation of building-cooling ice during off-peak hours (i.e., at night when the ERCOT electric grid has an abundant energy supply from wind-powered plants). Then, during the day, the ice melts and replaces the need for the use of more energy-hungry processes. Perhaps most importantly, the installation of such a thermal storage system will afford our campus the opportunity of a reduced utility rate.


Essentially, we will avoid Austin Energy’s 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. peak demand period and the highly burdensome $14.65/kW cost levied during that long window of time. Another benefit to a high-efficiency, ecologically friendly design is that it allows the distribution of chilled water (from a prior day’s melted ice) to residents at extremely low rates. In all, analysts have indicated that a reduction in electrical costs could be as high as 40 percent on the campus as a result of these measures.

In addition to these savings, the centralization of the plant requires far less space than other systems, freeing up land that can now be otherwise used for non-energy-related purposes. These energy savings will find their way to the consumer and will bring about greater, more wide-ranged investments in other sustainable aspects of our campus.