Weingarten Realty is excited to announce the installation of a new sustainable resource within Stoneridge Towne Centre, located in Moreno Valley, CA. Weingarten teamed up with Ice Energy Holdings Inc. and the Moreno Valley Utility Division to install nine Ice Bear thermal energy storage units. The units are affixed to several of the tenants’ heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units and deliver cost-effective solutions to reduce peak demand, improve energy system efficiency and reliability, and transform the way the utility system operates.
Ice Energy, which has been in business more than 10 years, has developed new, cutting edge technology with their Ice Bear thermal storage units. Ice Bear units were conceived on the idea that a block of ice approximately the size of a refrigerator could cool a tenant’s space for up to six hours. The Ice Bear units’ compressors operate at night to make ice and maintain a chilled water tank. When temperatures rise during the day, the compressor in the HVAC unit, which otherwise would be working its hardest to cool the hot air, actually shuts down completely and the HVAC unit and building gets all the cooling needed from refrigerant cooled in the chilled water tank of the Ice Bear.
Due to the reduced consumption of electricity during peak hours, the HVAC unit’s energy consumption is reduced anywhere from 5-20% during that time. The percentage of energy saved is based on several variables: the amount of energy and cooling needed, the outside temperature, the business hours of the retailer, and many additional factors. The hotter it gets outside, the more efficient the Ice Bear is, which is exactly the opposite of an HVAC unit. Also, the Ice Bear units lessen the usage of the HVAC’s compressors during the day, resulting in extending the life of a typical HVAC unit.
Working directly with Ice Energy’s team, Weingarten Realty associates were educated on the new technology and conducted thorough due diligence of the property prior to installing and connecting the Ice Bear units. This due diligence included the load testing of the roofs, architectural drawings, and electrical load testing. The nine Ice Bear units were installed on the property in December 2013.
Weingarten was also able to further question Ice Energy about their cutting edge Ice Bear thermal storage units and their business model.
WEINGARTEN (WRI): Without revealing any proprietary information, can you explain how the module works and knows how much ice to create overnight?
ICE ENERGY (IE): [The module] measures pressure in the refrigeration Ice Make cycle. The Ice Make cycle occurs at night during utility off peak hours. The Ice Bear unit’s compressors draw heat out of the water to freeze the water to ice.
WRI: What factors made Stoneridge Towne Centre the ideal choice for the Moreno Valley Utility Division and Ice Energy to install so many Ice Bear units?
IE: Stoneridge Towne Center is a property with many tenants that have the size and type of air conditioning that is easily adaptable to our system. [We felt] this was a great fit for demonstrating the market scalability.
WRI: Ice Energy has done a great job completing the project and has used high quality materials for the installation of the units to the current HVAC units; as well as high quality workmanship with assessing all roof penetrations. How important is it to Ice Energy to provide such great craftsmanship to the properties?
IE: It’s extremely important to provide quality equipment and craftsmanship as our utility clients expect our product to be operational for 25-30 years, similar to other utility assets they purchase.
WRI: How does Ice Energy’s business model benefit Landlords striving toward greener solutions for their properties?
IE: By partnering with both utility companies and landlords, we are able to lower the costs for both parties by reducing energy consumption during peak hours. There is a license agreement between all parties in which the landlord allows the utility company and Ice Energy to access, install, and maintain the Ice Bears on their roofs. Ice Energy deployed Ice Bears under utility programs in five states during the 2013 calendar year. We have, and do anticipate having new programs launched again with larger utilities like Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric and look forward to working with Landlords by installing more Ice Bear units.
Although the cost savings may not be realized until the warmer months ahead, Weingarten Realty is excited to be able to provide these energy cost savings to our tenants, as well as benefit from the supplemented longevity of a longer useful life of the HVAC units. In addition to providing a means for more cost efficiencies to tenants, reducing overall energy consumption at the shopping center is congruent to the company’s green initiatives. Weingarten Realty’s Stoneridge Towne Centre is the first shopping center in Moreno Valley with such a high count of Ice Bear units. With shopping centers spanning from the Northwest region to the Central, Southern, and Eastern regions of the United States, Weingarten Realty is looking forward to the opportunity to expand their relationship with Ice Energy to provide a greener and more efficient standard in air conditioning to more properties.