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500-ton chillers to improve efficiency at Proctors plant

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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Riggers from Burt Crane & Rigging move one of two 500-ton chillers into the second floor of Marquee Power at Proctors.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Riggers from Burt Crane & Rigging move one of two 500-ton chillers into the second floor of Marquee Power at Proctors.

— Hooked to a crane by four heavy chains, the high-efficiency chiller unit was lifted off a flatbed trailer Monday morning.

Its eventual destination was a garage door-size spot on the second floor of the Proctors complex, behind the Transfinder headquarters and next to the Hampton Inn parking lot.

The new chillers are part of a $3.5 million project to improve energy effiency at Proctors and surrounding properties. The project is backed in large part by $2.9 million in funds from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The project also will expand the footprint of Proctors’ decade-old heating and cooling infrastructure to other nearby offices and businesses.

“This is a big day, as we add capacity to put a whole bunch more people on” Proctors CEO Philip Morris told reporters under the Proctors marquee before the event.

Morris estimated the heating and cooling infrastructure will now reach 1.2 million square feet of space at Proctors and the immediate vacinity.

Proctors originally built its $7.5 million district energy plant in 2005, dubbing it Marquee Power. The facility, essentially a co-op near Clinton and State streets, provides heating and cooling to the theater and to other downtown customers, including Center City and the Hampton Inn.

The expansion will add the new Quirky space at Center City, Key Hall, Parker Inn and Proctors’ own main stage.

The $2.9 million in state funds leaves the theater to come up with the remaining portion of the $3.5 million project. Morris said later they are still looking to raise that money and are hoping to do so through more grants.

The entire project will take about 18 months to complete, Morris noted, leaving time to come up with the remainder.

Monday’s event was essentially a groundbreaking for the project, officials said. The first step was getting new 500-ton capacity chiller units in place. The units use the latest technology to improve efficiency and capacity, officials said.

The technology allows for them to be run at high efficiency even when they’re not running at full capacity, a problem with older systems, Morris said.

The project is also to include more efficient boilers.

Proctors developed the project and applied for funding with the help of Trane and M/E Engineering.

The joint utility plant has allowed for reduced costs, largely using natural gas to provide hot and cold water to nearby buildings. That water is then used to heat and cool the buildings. The joint plant also eliminates the need for each building to have its own system. Service pipes were laid over the years during various construction projects.

Morris noted that the system allows for backup heating and cooling. It also allowed the Hampton Inn to not waste space with its own system when it was constructed, adding more rooms.

He also likened the system to the ones on college campuses, with a centralized plant supplying services to other buildings.

The overall impact of the centralized plant is the reduction of the carbon footprint by more than 500 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, officials said.

NYSERDA picked Proctors for the money because the project combines the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency, economic development and other factors, officials said.

On hand for the event was Tom Barone, acting vice president of energy services for NYSERDA.

“We’re really hoping that Proctors will become a model for economic stewardship in the state,” Barone said.

 
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