Harbor Plaza
Ascent Media's Harbor Plaza Facility


Office Building

Harbor Plaza

Stamford, CT USA

Facility Size
4 stories, 150,000 ft2

Heat generation by production, transmission and computer equipment

Replace four old chillers with three Daikin Magnitude® magnetic
bearing chillers

Ascent Media saves energy and goes green with help from Daikin Service and Magnitude chillers

Ascent Media's business of distributing programming for well known sports and cable networks is an around-the-clock endeavor. Keeping the building's broadcast and production equipment cool is critical to that business. So the company turned to Daikin for its reliable frictionless chiller technology yielding significant energy savings and an attractive utility rebate to boot.

"The key thing about our operations is we're more than just office space," says Kurt Liddi, vice president of engineering for Ascent Media Network Services in Stamford, Connecticut. "We're a 24/7 high-energy operation that produces a great amount of heat for its size. We produce 24 hours a day and need highly reliable, efficient cooling to manage that operation on a year-round basis."

The power consumption at Ascent Media Network Services' 150,000 ft2 Harbor Plaza building in Stamford is considerable, Liddi says. The building is a mix of administrative and technical space including some for major cable networks that produce content in the building. About 25 percent of the 1980s-era four-story building is composed of technical facilities: heating-generating production and transmission equipment as well as computers in control rooms, edit bays and studios. "The technical load alone consumes about 250,000 kilowatt hours per month," Liddi says.

Energy Savings Summary

meterEnergy savings after chiller replacement
40% annually

Utility rebate
$260,000 incentive check
5% of the total installation cost, based on energy saved

The building's existing four chillers, housed in pairs in back-to-back machine rooms in the basement of the building, were well maintained through more than 25 years of operation. "The equipment performed remarkably well considering its age, but at some point we were approaching the end of the operating lifespan of the system," Liddi says. "Plus today's chillers are so much more efficient than the chillers of 25 years ago. So when the local utility, Connecticut Power & Light, offered a chiller replacement incentive program, Liddi had even more reason to replace the old chillers. For a recommendation on what type of modern chiller would best fit the Ascent Media system requirements, he turned to Daikin Service who has maintained the original chillers since they were installed.

In response, Daikin Service conducted a site survey and showed Liddi the Daikin Magnitude chiller technology in action at another installation in upstate New York. Liddi was sold. The load capacity and efficiencies of the Daikin frictionless magnetic-bearing chillers at 200-tons of capacity each meant that only three chillers were required to replace the four existing chillers. Liddi says: "Our operation configuration is lead, lag and standby and we rotate the standby role. Our system isn't capable of operating all three at the same time. We have one in reserve and run a maximum of two at any time."

Phased approach

To provide the necessary uninterrupted cooling at the Ascent Media facility, installation of the new Daikin Magnitude chillers was completed in two phases. "Our biggest challenge was to make sure the customer always had cooling," explains the Daikin Service representative in Danbury, Connecticut. "Ascent Media could loose their cooling within 15 minutes if those machines lost power. We made sure that didn't happen."

Turnkey project by Daikin

Liddi credits the Daikin team for their exceptional turnkey service on the project, including linking the chiller controls to peripherals, thereby offering one-touch controls to open the system valves and turn on the pumps in place of external controls. Liddi appreciates the advanced controls on the chillers. "The touch-screen graphical user interface is easy to use and quite informative. Each machine has its own interface and essentially operates itself once configured," he says.

In addition, Daikin installed a new ventilation system in the chiller plant room to comply with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 15 titled Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems. Liddi notes that the refrigerant used by the new Daikin Magnitude chillers, HFC-134a, is rated A1 (best) by ASHRAE Standard 34 (lower toxicity, no flame propagation). HFC-134a has additional benefits of no ozone depletion potential and no phaseout schedule.

The Daikin team also modified the machine room to accept a new building automation system (BAS), which Liddi expects to have in place by summer 2008. "Another benefit of the Daikin chillers is the BACnet® open standard protocol communications that allows easy integration with a BAS. The allowed us to select a best-of-class BAS system," Liddi says, noting the BAS system by Automated Logic Corporation is provided and installed by RCMS Controls, Inc. "In addition to having the new chillers control the peripherals like pumps, we're going to tie the chillers to control the operation of the two cooling towers."

To help ensure that Ascent Media clients have continuous programming, the Daikin team connected the chillers to a backup power generator. "The ability of the new chillers to automatically restart following a power failure is another big plus. Our old units required a manual restart following a delay, which resulted in a temperature increase," Liddi says, adding the startup of the chillers under emergency power requires very little inrush current.

Incentive to go green

The incentive program run by Connecticut Light & Power on behalf of the customer-funded Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund allowed Ascent Media to greatly reduce its investment costs in the new Daikin equipment. In May 2008, Ascent Media executives proudly received a $260,000 incentive check from Connecticut Light & Power at Harbor Plaza, with a Daikin representative in attendance.

Larry Winchell, energy engineer with Connecticut Light & Power explains the program was designed to incentify owners to replace chillers 25 years and older due to their inefficiencies. "Southwest Connecticut is considered a load pocket because there is such a high usage of electrical power here. Eliminating and reducing kilowatt demand in the region is quite important due to congested transmission and dense population in the area."

Winchell says Connecticut Light & Power promotes the use of energy-efficient equipment and the compressor technology of the Daikin Magnitude chillers is an excellent example of new technology that reduces energy consumption. "Reducing a lot of demand, especially on those hot August days when demand peaks, is quite significant," Winchell says.

Adding up the savings

Liddi reports the Daikin equipment allows Ascent Media to save 40 percent on an annual basis in consumption costs at Harbor Plaza. "It was preventive to some degree, but it also helped us take advantage of two financial benefits: the incentive from Connecticut Light & Power and the operating cost savings of the energy-efficient Daikin equipment," he says.


Connecticut Power and Light presented Ascent Media with a $260,000 incentive check as part of their customer funded program to incentify owners to replace old chillers with new, energy efficient models. Participating in the presentation ceremony were left to right:

  • Al DiPaolo, district manager of Daikin Service of New England
  • Jim McGrath, chief technology officer of Ascent Media
  • Peter Brickman, managing director of Ascent Media
  • Larry Winchell, program administrator, Conservation & Load Management for Northeast Utilities Service Company
  • Mo Zia, account executive for Connecticut Light & Power.
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