TAMPA — The Water Street Tampa building christened Wednesday has the size, shape and red-brick detail of an old Tampa cigar factory. Its product, however, is not hot smoke, but cool air.
Two blocks north of Amalie Arena, the structure is Water Street’s air conditioner, a central cooling plant that pumps chilled water to most of Water Street’s buildings via 1.7 miles of insulated underground pipes. Heat exchangers at each building use the water to take heat out of the buildings. Here’s a quick look:
WHY? “It frees up rooftop space,” said Charlie Rollins, an executive vice president and director of development and construction for developer Strategic Property Partners. That makes room for bars, restaurants, pools, gardens and dog walks atop its towers. It also reduces noise and vibration in the buildings. And it’s an estimated 30 to 40 percent more efficient than having individual chillers at each building.
THE SPECS: The plant has 11 pumps, six cooling towers and three Trane chillers, each about as big as a recreational vehicle, with space for two more. Outside, plant operators can use 98 tanks about eight feet tall to make ice also used to chill water. Chilled water leaves the plant at 39 degrees Fahrenheit and comes back at 57 degrees.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “It’s about time we honor our chillers,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp said, “because our chillers and our solar panels are one of the most exciting things we have going moving forward.”