District cooling improves the energy efficiency while reducing the carbon footprint of urban comfort cooling

District cooling improves the energy efficiency while lowering the carbon footprint of urban comfort cooling.

District cooling has the potential to improve the energy efficiency while also lowering the carbon footprint of comfort cooling in urban areas. The following discussion demonstrates how district cooling technology can be used to achieve these two important objectives:

How does district cooling improve the energy efficiency of cooling energy production?

Due to economies of scale, the district cooling system can adopt energy-efficient technology such as industrial grade high-efficiency chillers, series-connected chiller modules, thermal energy storage, and cogeneration or combined heat and power.

Thermal energy storage shifts cooling energy production from peak hours to off-peak hours.

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District Cooling: A cost-effective and energy-efficient solution for comfort cooling

District Cooling: A Cost Effective and Energy Efficient solution for comfort cooling


District cooling system has two major competitive advantages over in-building cooling plants, which makes it a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution for urban comfort cooling. The two advantages are:

  1. Efficient Asset and Resource Utilization
  2. Efficient Energy Utilization

This article discusses in detail the competitive advantages of a district cooling system compared to conventional in-building cooling plants.


In conventional comfort cooling in an urban environment, each building is equipped with its own cooling system. The cooling capacity depends on the size and the usage of the building. The building cooling demand determines the type of cooling technology. Smaller offices and residential buildings are typically provided with air-cooled technology, which has higher unit energy consumption. Larger commercial or office buildings will invariably be installed with water-cooled electrical chillers.

In a modern city with an equatorial climate, like Singapore, approximately 70% of electricity consumption in commercial buildings is attributed to comfort cooling and two-thirds of that consumption is used to power the in-building chiller plants.[1] This energy statistic underscores the importance of optimizing the energy usage of air conditioning in the urban environment. District Cooling technology holds the promise of significant improvement in the energy efficiency of comfort cooling.

A district cooling system does away with the in-building cooling plants by providing a centralized source of energy as a utility service. The District Cooling model comprises a Central Chiller Plant generating cooling energy to be supplied to each individual End-user building via a network of distribution pipes.

District cooling systems have certain competitive advantages compared to conventional in-building cooling plants. These advantages translate into real-world benefits, which make district cooling technology a cost-effective and energy-efficient cooling solution for comfort cooling in the modern city.

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