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Banking on chiller technology earns big savings

​When Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, with 59 branches in BC, needed a cost effective, customized energy solution for one of their commercial towers in Vancouver, we were able to deliver.

Vancity’s 115,000 square foot tower houses a large data centre containing network computer systems and servers. Typically, a data centre like this generates a lot of residual heat that is vented into the atmosphere. A detailed energy study identified the best solution to invest in would be a new chiller with a heat reclaim option. Especially since the existing data centre chiller was nearing the end of its useful life.

A heat reclaim system is more commonly installed in new high-performance buildings, while retrofits of existing systems and buildings can be more complex. By going ahead with the heat reclaim option, Vancity demonstrated their commitment to energy conservation — and benefited from the Commercial Custom Design Retrofit Program.

“We’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption and to pilot high efficiency technologies,” said Wendy Worrall, Vancity manager, leasing, property and energy management, facility environmental management.

Wendy Worrall, along with Drew Scoular, Vancity maintenance supervisor.

Cool tech makes good sense

Before installing the heat reclaim system, Vancity relied solely on natural gas boilers for space and water heating, while residual waste heat from the data centre was being lost. A reclaim system recovers and reuses waste heat captured by the data centre’s cooling system. Today, the reclaim system and natural gas boilers work together to provide heat, with the majority of space heating provided by the heat reclaim system.

Making energy efficiency count

The Commercial Custom Design Retrofit Program offers incentives and energy efficiency solutions tailored to specific buildings or facilities. For Vancity, their energy efficiency efforts have made a real difference. In fact, they estimate they will save $17,487 in a year (2,900 gigajoules of natural gas). And with the $91,684 incentive, their expected payback, according to Worrall, was reduced from six years to about four-and-a-half years.*

“There are many commercial towers out there with data centres that generate large amounts of heat. So this is a really good story to share since heat recovery can help save energy and contribute to greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Worrall.

*Individual results will vary including payback periods, energy and gigajoule savings.