Universities face choices over chillers



Britain’s Universities face a major challenge with the simultaneous introduction of Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation and the need to rid their estates of aging R22-based chillers, according to leading air conditioning company Cool-Therm.

“Many Universities are highly dependent on aging, inefficient chillers,” says Ken Strong, managing director of Cool-Therm Ltd. “Implementing the new CRC requirements is going to be a huge task, coming on top of the phase-out of virgin R22 at the end of this year – since many are acutely exposed.”

It is a critical issue for them because of the scale and importance of cooling on modern campuses. High-tech R&D facilities often require industrial scale refrigeration, while air conditioning is essential for teaching, administration and leisure facilities.

Universities are essentially mini high-tech cities. They depend on refrigeration and air conditioning to function.

Many of the institutions that sprang up in the Seventies and Eighties still have large numbers of highly inefficient chillers, often based on R22. With the crunch coming on new R22, and pressure to improve efficiency under CRC laws, it is going to pose real problems for them. At the same time,it obviously presents a major opportunity to improve efficiency, and cut running costs and carbon emissions.

The two were speaking during the annual meeting of the Association of University Engineers, held at Bath University.

The theme of the conference was the new statutory requirement to cut carbon emissions from university estates – and the best means of achieving this.

Cool-Therm and Klima-Therm are recommending that universities prioritise opportunities for carbon reduction, and allocate capital accordingly.

For example, replacing an aging chiller with a modern plant based on the latest turbine compressors with magnetic bearing technology can save between 30 to 50 per cent of energy costs and carbon emissions.