Case Study: NREL Campus Chilled Water Storage Potential; Benchmark Datasets Development and Applications, Task 4 - Use Case Demonstration

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The Benchmark Datasets Development and Applications project is a three-year collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The project seeks to collect and curate high-resolution, well-calibrated time series of building operational and indoor/outdoor environmental data, which are crucial to understanding and optimizing building energy efficiency performance and demand flexibility capabilities as well as benchmarking energy algorithms. Project outcomes include approximately twelve high-fidelity building datasets, enhanced data representation tools, and four case studies to illustrate example applications. The goal of these case studies is to define and execute analyses that demonstrate how one or more datasets collected through this project can address a data gap or challenge historically faced by building stakeholders. This technical paper summarizes the findings of one of these case studies, in which we studied the operational efficiencies of the central cooling system at NREL. We looked at three years of data from the three chillers in the Field Test Laboratory Building (FTLB), from 2019 to 2021, to compare equipment operation and demand throughout the time period. Our analysis indicates that all three chillers are operating at or below the optimal loading conditions for most of the operation time, and thus there was no efficiency drop due to loading of the chillers at full capacity. Our recommendation is that no chiller capacity increase is needed; instead, the central plant could benefit from adopting advanced control logics for optimal sequencing of chillers during part load operations. Analysis of adding chilled water thermal storage to the central plant indicated 34% savings in demand cost and 24.5% savings in total cost (energy consumption and demand charge cost). The payback period is estimated to be 11-22 years with an assumed TES cost of $100-$200 per ton. This case study shows how a selected dataset is used to solve a practical building problem - learning the operational status of its components, analyzing the effectiveness of a proposed new technique, and aiding decision-making for the building operations and maintenance team.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-83649


  • buildings
  • chilled water
  • dataset use case study
  • thermal energy storage


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