73 Cavalier Blvd, Suite 313
Florence, KY 41042
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What Makes a Building Better?

The answer depends on YOU. What are your goals for your building?

In order to achieve your goals for your building, we provide several services; at the base of these services is Building Commissioning. Acting as a third party, independent commissioning service provider, we start by identifying and documenting your needs, and then we provide the process, tools, and solutions to meet those needs. We are your consultant every step of the way, and success for us is meeting your goals!

We strongly believe in the Commissioning process and the value it adds. Our website not only contains information about our company and services, but will provide you with details on the commissioning process as well.  We are happy to educate anyone who cares to listen on what the process is, how it should work and why it is going to become standard practice in the construction industry.

Please contact us if you’d like to learn more. We would be happy to visit and educate you and your staff on the services we provide.

The Latest from the Blog

Is Ice Storage Right for K-12 Schools?

Posted by Ian Holten at Oct 21, 2014 7:30 pm


This may be one of our more technical blogs. Don’t be scared, this is all common sense.


Simple Explanation of Ice Storage Systems

For those of you “outside the biz,” let me quickly explain what ice storage systems are intended to do.

Typically, the main goal for these systems is to allow a facility to avoid higher electric charges during the day by using ice, stored in large containers, to cool the facility instead of running the A/C. In simple terms, a building will make ice overnight (when electricity is “cheaper”) and then use the ice for cooling during the day, allowing expensive-to-run cooling equipment to be shut off.

Here is why it’s important to shift loads from day to night:

  1. Customers are charged for how much electricity they use.
  2. Customers are also charged for how much electricity they use at any given time.

Ice storage systems usually increase usage slightly (#1 above) but decrease demand (#2 above). It’s usually cheaper to reduce #2 greatly while increasing #1 slightly.

Simple idea… not so simple systems


Would I Want Ice Storage Systems To Help Lower My Electric Bills?

I’ve had the opportunity to work on numerous cooling plants in the tri-state. Some have ice storage, but most do not. This made me wonder… if I was in charge of a school district or large facility, would I want ice storage systems to help lower my electric bills?

Ice storage systems, when working properly, can lower peak electricity demands by 25, 30, 35% or more. Those demand-savings can total tens of thousands of dollars per year in energy savings for our schools. Sounds like a good deal, and it can be.

However, the reality is that most of the ice storage systems I’ve been introduced to and worked on over the past years have NOT been operating properly. This poor operation often penalizes the district in terms of equipment life, occupant comfort, and higher energy costs.

Also, keep in mind that ice storage systems, in reality, should only be called up to operate during the hottest parts of the year with a fully occupied building. For most schools, this translates to only a few weeks in late May/June, and a few weeks in August/September.

The Achillesheel of any ice storage system is that the system MUST make ice the night prior so it can be used the next day. Murphy’s Law tells us that over the lifespan of an ice storage system, it WILL fail right when you need it most.


So The Questions For The District Become:

  1. What happens if we don’t have ice?
    1. Can we let the building temperatures suffer?
      1. This will usually cause very unhappy occupants!
    2. Do we turn on the cooling equipment to 100%?
      1. This will undermine the entire purpose of the entire system.
      2. Even if you run the cooling equipment full bore only one time during the summer, you will totally negate the benefits of the system.
  • If after reading the above 2 items you still turn on the cooling equipment, you will be at the mercy of the energy provider to “forgive” this occurrence. If they do not forgive this occurrence, you have increased #1 and #2, and will pay for the #2 increase throughout the year.

So, you see, there really aren’t many good options for schools if equipment fails to make ice. Furthermore, these systems notoriously have trouble even reliably communicating how much ice is actually in the tanks.


Long Blog Short

If your building operators and maintenance personnel have the ability, willingness, and expertise to keep an ice storage system properly functioning, then ice storage systems can save a lot of money.

If, like most districts, your maintenance and operational personnel are already stretched thin and do not have the time or energy to devote to a system like this, I’d pass on these systems, and instead, work to make what you have function at its best.

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