Fair Lawn Company Uses Ice to Cool Buildings

By Candace Kelley

When temperatures go up, so do electricity costs. And that means higher bills, especially for large commercial spaces. But a company in Fair Lawn is trying to change that and hopes to ice out its competitors in the process. Mark MacCracken, CEO of CALMAC, says it’s all about the ice.

“We make a lot of ice at night and then during the day we melt the ice, in order to cool the building. And the reason you are doing this is to shift the electric load to nighttime when commercially it’s about 70 percent discount for your electricity cost,” MacCracken said.

That’s right. Instead of using electricity to cool buildings, CALMAC freezes ice in water tanks then uses the water to keep things cool. First the tank itself is made right on site. A little fire, then ice. The water goes through three miles of coils. They are wrapped around the inside of these tanks until ice is formed.

The company was founded in 1947 by MacCracken’s father, a man who was ahead of his time in regards to solar energy and who holds 80 patents. These days the company has everyone’s attention.

“There was more focus on the economic end of it rather than the life process end of it that we are faced with now, the impact it’s going to have on our children and future generations,” said Brian Silvetti, vice president of engineering for CALMAC Manufacturing Corporation.

Over 4,000 facilities and institutions in 37 countries use ice to cool their facilities but CALMAC says New Jersey has just scratched the surface.

They’re using it here and other places in New Jersey like Ramapo College. New York has more than warmed up to the idea that this cooling system has major benefits. Across the border, in some buildings, the company makes 1.8 million pounds of ice every night.

“They are taking steps in order to make this product much more usable. We have terrific institutions in New York City — Bank of America tower, Goldman Sachs and Rockefeller Center,” MacCracken said.

For MacCracken, he is not only running a company, he is carrying on his father’s legacy.

“This is something that’s really going to take off in the future,” he said.

Just like his dad, he’s ahead of the game with these ice storage tanks and he says it’s a matter of time before most commercial properties will want to get into the ice game.