Project Lead: Sara Shirazi
Sponsor: Physical Plant-Campus Services
TGIF Grant: $10,216
Project Theme: Energy Efficiency & Conservation
2013 Application Submission
Status: In Progress
Project Description: Cooling towers are mechanical systems integral to the operation of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) systems. Cool Towers will hire two student associates to assist PP-CS in the development of a comprehensive cooling tower inventory. The students will identify system type, controls, water treatment type, and chemical usage, as well as an indication of overall water usage, strainer and basin health of the cooling towers. PP-CS will use the data to identify water and energy conservation opportunities and develop a campus-wide standard for future cooling tower installations and retrofits.
Goals: Once field data has been collected, the team will work with PP-CS to identify water and energy conservation opportunities. This includes performing lifecycle analyses on case alternatives as well as working with vendors to develop cost estimates. It is also the intent of this project that a campus-wide standard can be developed so all future cooling tower installations and retrofits will be able to use a "Cool Towers" standard, one that is enforceable by PP-CS Engineering Services and Energy Office.
With a campus of over 100 buildings and 17 million square feet of floor space, UC Berkeley faces a significant heating and cooling demand. While heating relies on a central steam system, cooling requires an individual system in each building. Unfortunately, this leads large-scale cooling systems to be costly, difficult to maintain, and energy inefficient.
Summary of Data Collected
Cooling Tower Operation
Water drips down packing, losing heat due to evaporation
Fan removes heat from tower
Current Sustainability Issues
Severely reduced system efficiency. More water needs to be pumped through the tower to remove the same amount of heat, and thus water and energy are wasted.
Berkeley has already used this data to approve a redesign of Koshland Hall’s cooling system, which could save up to 7 million gallons of water per year. With this degree of savings, the new system will pay for itself in less than 10 years. Hopefully, these savings will provide the motivation for funding the replacement of equally inefficient, wasteful systems.