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Buildings on Ice:
Making the Case for Thermal Energy Storage


Calmac IceBank tanks at One Bryant Park, one of the nation’s greenest high-rise buildings. The 44 tanks provide about a quarter of the total cooling.

Like many people in the green building world, I followed the design and construction of One Bryant Park, the high-rise office building in New York City that is being touted as the nation’s greenest. The building, likely to achieve LEED Platinum, was designed by Cook + Fox Architects and houses Bank of America offices and the headquarters of co-owner The Durst Organization. One Bryant Park’s wide range of green features—from rainwater harvesting and onsite waste-water treatment to optimized daylighting and a planned combined heat and power (CHP) plant—have attracted a great deal of attention.

But it was a feature hidden away in a sub-basement that I went to see recently: the building’s thermal energy storage (TES) system. Along with Mark MacCracken, P.E., the CEO of Calmac Manufacturing, which created the system, I entered through the building’s temporary scaffolding and slipped through a nondescript door in the lobby, leaving the building’s daylit grandeur for a catacomb of hidden hallways and stairways. Escorted by assistant chief engineer Dan Monahan of The Durst Organization, we dropped three floors from street level to a sprawling mechanical room with massive chillers, pumps, color-coded pipes of all sizes, and—what we had come to see—the 44 neatly arranged tanks where ice is made each night and melted each day to help cool the 2.1 million-square-foot (195,000 m2) tower.

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