Skip to Main Content

How Modular Helped District Cooling System Expansion

 Back To Blog

How Modular Helped District Cooling System Expansion

Mar 18, 2022

Austin Energy, the community-owned utility company that services downtown Austin needed to quickly expand their district cooling capacity to meet the increased demand for chilled water services in response to the area's rapid growth.

What is District Cooling?

According to Austin Energy’s website, a district cooling system provides an efficient and environmentally friendly way to cool multiple buildings and is common in urban areas.

Through a network of underground piping, district cooling plants provide chilled water to connected buildings. Austin Energy’s district cooling facilities serve more than 20 million SF.

With the continued growth of Austin’s downtown area, Austin Energy has worked to increase the number of buildings that can use chilled water for their air conditioning systems.

Modular Utility Solutions for Downtown Austin

In partnership with Texas AirSystems, Systecon has helped with Austin’s district cooling system expansion by providing modular utility solutions for its District Cooling Plants #3 (DCP3) and #4 (DCP4).


District Cooling Plant #3

The site identified for DCP3 had constraints that limited its commercial or residential use due to its shape, location, and height restrictions from the capital view corridor. In addition, the ½-acre crescent-shaped parcel of land had limited site access, a private drive, low bridge underpass, and an adjacent rail track. DCP3 was able to make use of this undevelopable land to serve the downtown area.

Systecon provided a primary chilled water, secondary chilled water, and condenser water system for DCP3 that helped Austin expand chilled water services to its city’s growing downtown development.

Factory-built and performance tested in the factory, Systecon met the special testing requirements (e.g., high flow rate and enough pressure to circulate through the test stand) through its ingenuity and test stand capacity.

austin energy

District Cooking Plant #4

With a lack of real estate, Austin Energy needed a fast solution to increase capacity without new site development. Additional challenges included optimizing electrical distribution, as well as minimizing noise and vibration generated by the plant. To avoid new site development, Austin Energy chose to install a modular chiller plant on the roof of the Austin Convention Center.

Systecon took the owner’s design criteria and developed a chilled water utility solution to cool and support buildings in downtown Austin.


Chiller Plant Design Improves Capacity

Under a fast-track design-build delivery, Systecon designed and fabricated a modular 3,000-ton capacity cooling plant for DCP4 to supplement the city loop that Austin Energy owns and operates. The plant includes chillers, condenser water system, cooling towers, pumps, and all associated power distribution and controls.

District Cooling Plant #4 is additional chilled water production that will work in conjunction with the other existing district cooling plants (DCP1, DCP2, and DCP3).

Built and performance tested in Systecon’s production facility, the DCP4 plant was shipped in 8 modules and installed in a matter of days, as opposed to months had it been built onsite.

Both modular utility solutions provide additional chilled water production capacity and optimization of the district cooling system for maximum efficiency.


Check out the Austin Energy District Cooling Plant #4 video

loading gif