Nice ice, baby: Ice-rink maker finds following with thermal energy storage

CALMAC of Fair Lawn, N.J., has one of the most diverse product portfolios I've heard about in a long time.

CALMAC of Fair Lawn, N.J., has one of the most diverse product portfolios I've heard about in a long time. Not only has the company sold and installed more than 800 ice-skating rinks -- including the one in New York City's Bryant Park -- it is using that intellectual property as one of the foundations for its energy-efficient alternative for cooling off buildings.

Mark MacCracken, CEO of CALMAC, says the company's ICEBANK technology works in a pretty simple way. In effect, ICEBANK is a form of energy storage, a concept that continues to build a following as investors explore the viability of various alternative energy options. "It is a way to balance out supply and demand," McCracken notes.

During the night, when energy costs are generally lower, ICEBANK units on the roof of a building convert water contained within them into blocks of ice. During the day, the chillers are turned off and as the ice melts, the cool water is pumped throughout the building. "You shift the cooling costs to off-peak," he says. For example, a retailer that is using the technology in Honolulu has been able to cut its daytime energy use in half by using the ICEBANK units.

ICEBANK is a concept that has been around for several years, and it have been has been installed in approximately 3,500 buildings in 36 countries so far, including the new LEED Platinum Bank of America building in New York (44 units) and the new headquarters of Goldman Sachs, which is picking up about double that number of units.

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