How Can Making 3,000 Tons of Ice Every Night Actually End Up Saving Energy?

Once again the United States is experiencing record hot temperatures this summer, which means that electric grids are working harder than ever to provide the energy needed to keep commercial buildings and their employees cool. And, as businesses try to keep costs down the increased use of air conditioners continues to be a drain on the bottom line.

However, in its LEED Platinum-certified building in Newtown Square, Pa., SAP has installed a system that uses “outside the box” thinking to decrease costs, relieve pressure on the local grid and save energy.

That’s where making the ice comes in. Hidden away in the utilities area of SAP’s U.S. headquarters sit 16 giant ice cooling tanks. During off-peak electricity hours (usually overnight) SAP purchases energy to make and fill the containers with ice. During the heat of the following day,the melting ice chills piping that feeds the air in the ventilation system, passively cooling down the building.

Not only is SAP helping its local utility manage its resources more wisely by purchasing energy during off-peak hours, mitigating the risks of a brown-out during peak usage times, SAP also saves 35 percent  in electricity costs through the use of its ice cooling systems. Running the ice melt during the peak periods of the day greatly reduces the mechanical cooling kilowatts used during that time period.

It’s a triple-win for SAP, the local utility and the environment.

You can read more about the 200,000-square-foot building, which opened in May 2009 and was designed by FXFOWLE Architects, in a press release issued last year: “SAP Americas Headquarters Achieves Certification as Pennsylvania’s Largest ‘LEED Platinum’ Building.”

Footage and high-res photos of the building are available at Watch a short video that showcases the cooling tanks here: