After the devastating winter the New York metro area just experienced, summer couldn’t come soon enough for many of Gotham’s co-op and condo residents. But don’t be surprised when people start forgetting about the cold and start complaining about the sweltering heat that usually heads our way in July and August. Cooling an entire building can get very expensive but no one wants a long, hot, miserable summer—so it’s up to your building’s administration and residents to devise a plan that allows for both comfort and thriftiness.
Community Climate Control
Keeping cool during the summer months can involve climate control at both the macro level (in the form of rooftop chiller equipment and other common infrastructure) and the micro level (in the form of window-mounted A/C units, wall thermostats, etc. in individual units). When it comes to how all those components work together, Edward H. Brzezowski, PE, LEED AP, vice president of The Falcon Group’s energy services section, says that each building is different.
“Medium- and high-rises may have a complex central cooling plant system—typically a chiller, cooling tower, dual temperature or chilled water and condenser water pumps— with air handling units serving chilled water coils to common spaces and fan coils or PTACs serving tenant spaces,” he says. “Whereas other building types may have cooling provided by rooftop or split A/C systems, window A/C units, or PTACs.” PTAC stands for packaged terminal air conditioner units.
Lindsay Robbins, senior project manager for the New York City office of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), works on the development and implementation of green building and energy efficiency programs for multifamily residential buildings.
“The majority of multifamily buildings use wall or window A/C units for cooling, but some larger buildings do use a central chiller,” she says. “Typically that means it also has a cooling tower (usually on the roof, very occasionally on the ground), and some sort of distribution system. For multifamily buildings, the most common type of distribution is a fan coil unit—one per living room and one per bedroom.”