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Upgrades to Grand Central Terminal To Cut Energy Consumption 30%

Utilities improvement in Grand Central Terminal will reduce annual carbon emissions by 10,000 tons.

vBehind-the-scenes equipment that keeps Grand Central cool in the summer, warm in the winter and flushed with fresh air all year round is being upgraded though a $22 million partnership between NYPA and MTA Metro-North Railroad. The energy efficiency project will conserve energy and save an estimated $3 million a year.

Deep below the gleaming marble Concourse and high above the constellation ceiling is a myriad of pumps, chillers, fans, compressors, cooling towers, meters and miles of high-pressure steam pipes, many of them a century old. Many of these systems are being replaced throughout the 48-acre Terminal that extends seven stories above ground and 150 feet below sea level.

The new, energy-efficient equipment will be paid for by NYPA and repaid over about 11 years by Metro-North with the money it saves as the result of a reduction in energy use.

Installation began in April and will be complete by the end of 2013.v

Currently the Terminal is cooled by steam supplied by Con Edison through huge underground pipes.

Five, steam-absorption chillers, now about two decades old, are being replaced by four new electrical centrifugal chillers, which have higher capacity and greater efficiency, thereby reducing the amount of steam that has to be purchased. (Two of the current seven steam chillers will be maintained for spare capacity in the Service Plant deep below the Terminal.)

Associated hardware - pumps, cooling towers, motors, etc. - also will be upgraded in various locations from the subbasement to the roof.

Grand Central has seven cooling towers on the roof, tucked behind the ornate copper and statuary, invisible from the street. Two were installed last year and the other five were installed when the Terminal was renovated in 1997-1998. Each is 10 feet square and 12 feet high. Water is pumped up from the basement and runs down the baffled sides of the towers. The water is cooled by fans and then re-circulated to cool the building. Fan motors on the five older towers will be replaced using more energy efficient motors and controls to optimize performance.

The new cooling system will be controlled by a state-of-the-art Building Management System that will optimize the operation of the pumps, cooling towers and chillers using variable speed fans to control air flow based on demand and temperature fluctuations and will result in energy savings.

In addition, 53 air handling units will be upgraded by replacing valves, dampers, sensors and coils as needed.

Portions of the old steam pipe network will be replaced with new steel pipes to alleviate stress that is causing reoccurring leaks. Pressure reducing stations also will be replaced to deliver the proper pressures needed at each different location.

Two existing air compressors will be replaced. The compressed air is used to test the air-brakes on all Metro-North trains before each and every trip. They are also used to power valves for pneumatic controls throughout the Terminal. Thousands of feet of pipes and several compressors throughout the building will be replaced with modern equipment.