Metro-North Improves Air Conditioning at Grand Central with Energy-Efficient Cooling Towers
May 19th, 2014
Grand Central Terminal is now a cooler, more energy-efficient place when it comes to air conditioning. That's because Metro-North Railroad has replaced five old cooling towers atop the terminal with four new more energy efficient ones.
The work, which happened in the middle of the night and required closing two lanes of 42nd Street, was done in phases so as not to interrupt air conditioning in the terminal.
A massive crane was erected on the street to hoist the huge cooling towers up and over the south façade of the terminal. The viaduct roadway that encircles the terminal also was closed while the crane worked.
In phase one, which occurred March 22-23, the rigging operation - setup and breakdown of the crane, removal of three cooling towers and installing two new ones - took 18 hours. With the two new towers in place, it took another month of mechanical, plumbing, and electrical work to get them up and running. The remaining two cooling towers were placed last weekend.
The cooling towers work in tandem with the chillers that are in the subbasement of the Terminal. Last year, Metro-North and the New York Power Authority removed five steam absorption chillers and replaced them with four centrifugal (electrical) chillers that, like the new cooling towers, are more efficient.
The cooling towers were manufactured by Baltimore Air Coil, the same manufacturer as the existing cooling towers. However, the new towers are made of stainless steel, have direct drive fans that are controlled by Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s), and are equipped with improved monitoring and control systems to attain better efficiencies.
Most of the waste in cooling towers comes from water that is evaporated and thus lost to the environment. These new cooling towers should limit the amount of water that has to be added to the system. Also, the new units will be controlled remotely by the Terminal’s building management system, which will regulate the speed and flow of these machines for optimal operation.
This is part of the Grand Central Comprehensive Energy Conservation Project. NYPA pays the upfront costs and Metro-North repays NYPA in installments using the recurring savings over the life of the units through reduced energy consumption.
Photos showing cranes hoisting the cooling towers over Grand Central are available at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/sets/72157644734012951/