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A New York Skyscraper Stores Wind Power

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The first skyscraper to attain a Platinum LEED Certification, the new Bank of America building at Bryant Park in New York is green. It includes a greywater system, for example, which captures rainwater and reuses it.

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This is green: It uses floor-to-ceiling insulating glass to contain heat and maximize natural light, and an automatic daylight dimming system.

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This is greener: Once the (purified, filtered) air has been used inside the building; the exhaust air is also filtered – making the tower a giant air filter for pedestrians in Midtown Manhattan.

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But this is greenest: The building is cooled by ice. That makes this building a storage option for wind power using thermal energy storage (TES). How does that work?

Wind mostly blows at night, creating electricity that has no market at night when we sleep. This building buys night time electricity and uses it to freeze water in these giant tanks. This cools pipes running through these tanks that contain glycol liquid: storing the cold. The next day, the cooled liquid is then piped throughout the skyscraper, cooling the entire building as it flows underneath each floor.

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This cools the building on Manhattan’s hot and muggy dog days of summer for only about a third of the energy cost of surrounding buildings. This is called energy shifting, because it shifts the peak use from daytime hours, when everyone is in the offices, to nighttime, when electricity demand is lower and the costs are lower. Because it stores night time wind power to use by day to offset other energy uses, it helps wind power grow.

New York is one of the few states in the USA to have reduced its greenhouse gases to European levels. Energy solutions like this simple but clever idea will be part of our clean energy future.

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