As reported by Paula Liegl in the February 19, 2001 issue of ES’ sister publication, The ACHR News.At a press event held Tuesday January 30, 2001 at the ASHRAE show, the American Gas Cooling Center (AGCC) held a forum that included manufacturers in the industry, and discussed the mounting energy problems plaguing the whole of the United States, and not just California.

Manufacturers present at the press conference make up some of the most respected in the industry, and included York, Trane, Tecogen, Goettl Air Conditioning, Munters, Robur, RPE, Thermax, Energy Concepts, Alturdyne, CoolTec, and Broad USA.

Tony Occhonero, executive director of AGCC, opened the even with a challenge to manufacturers. “I challenge each and every manufacturer to step up and meet the demand for energy conservation through combination of gas and electric systems.”

He said the best way to help the energy situation is to utilize the developed integration of cooling systems, and that blackouts and brownouts while prevalent of late in California, are not inevitable.

“Natural gas air conditioning, as part of integrated cooling system, offer immediate relief from reliance on overburdened electric power grids,” said Occhonero. “In increasing numbers, commercial and industrial energy consumers are integrating gas air-conditioning into their electric heating and cooling plants.”

With these hybrid plants, consumers can choose their operating fuel based on availability and price, he said.

Benefit To Contractors, Customers

The AGCC says there are multiple benefits offered by integrated natural gas-electric equipment systems, and some of them will help in gaining customer attention for the product. It says that the systems offer the following:

  • Lower life-cycle costs;
  • Electric peak-load reduction;
  • Increased efficiency;
  • Improved indoor air quality; and
  • Enhanced flexibility in managing fluctuating energy prices and fuel availability.

According to figures quoted by Occhonero, air-conditioning and lighting account for 40% of U.S. energy consumption. This is why electric utilities today welcome customers who can switch off demands on the power gird, especially during peak periods of the day.

Accompanied by manufacturers from all over the world, Occhonero said that while the initial cost of these hybrid cooling systems can exceed that of an all-electric system by as much as 50%, and this may cause building contractors from using the systems, the AGCC has found that the “front-end cost” can be recovered in as little as three years. “Assuming a 20-year life span for the equipment, the building will then realize substantial annual operational cost savings for the next 17 years.”

For more information, contact the AGCC at 202-824-7141 (phone); or at (website).