The chiller plant is at the core of a building’s operations and overall performance. In more extensive facilities, optimizing is critical for maintaining cool air when it’s hot, maintaining power requirements, and meeting the facility's energy needs.


Large commercial buildings that require a substantial amount of cooling often use water chillers because they are cost effective and there is a reduced hazard by not having refrigerant piped all over the building.


For example, in massive buildings such as casinos, hotels, and corporate highrises the HVAC system may account for 60% of a building’s energy consumption. The chiller plant takes up most of the consumption within the HVAC system.

Chiller Plant Operation

Chiller plant systems operate by pumping cool water throughout the building. Cool air is then transferred to the occupied spaces by terminal devices located within the building or by using coils located in air handling units. Automatic valves at these terminal devices or cooling coils provide the air temperature control. In a large commercial building, the heat absorbed by the water may be transferred to the outside air through a cooling tower.


Chilled water transports the cooling fluid from the chillers to the load terminals and back to the chillers to maintain space comfort. The chiller removes heat from the water and circulates it through other components to absorb the heat from the space.

Why Are Chiller Plants Important?

Chiller plants have several benefits:


●        They utilize water because it is non-corrosive.

●        They can monitor specific heat value.

●        It is a non-toxic method for cooling.

●        Chiller plant systems are cost-effective.

●        They last longer than air-cooled chillers.


The Challenge of Designing a Chiller Plant

Engineers face several challenges when designing and implementing a chiller plant. One challenge we face is determining if the chiller plant will operate at the designed temperature differential. In other words, what is the actual difference between the chilled water supply temperature and the chilled water return temperature compared to the design?


One of the key areas we look at when considering a chiller plant is how the system will operate efficiently. We first address the chillers and chilled water pumps, which control the plant. There are two types of chilled water pumps.


1.      The variable-primary chilled water system is a more efficient chiller plant arrangement because it only uses one set of pumps to move water through the chillers and throughout the building systems.

2.      The primary-secondary pumps include two sets of pumps — one for the chillers and the other for the building systems.


All chillers have a designated temperature differential. Every chiller also has specific data containing critical information about the operating characteristics of various components such as:


●        Chillers

●        Pumps

●        Cooling towers

●        Quality control system


The control system enables coordination of all system aspects and facilitates access to the chiller’s internal data. We can use the data as input to create an efficient chiller control program.

Engineering and Design Services in Minneapolis

LKPB has developed an extensive portfolio of engineering and design projects in a variety of industries such as corporate, commercial, educational, healthcare, municipal, and recreational.


To schedule a consultation with an LKPB Engineer, call us at 612-540-5000, or you can message us on our contact page.