Cornell University Lake Source Cooling

The Lake Source Cooling (LSC) project, one of Cornell University’s largest environmental engineering projects, provides 20,000 tons of cooling with an 86% reduction in energy use versus conventional cooling methods. This innovative deep water source cooling project uses nearby Cayuga Lake as a non-contact cooling source for the campus chilled water system providing central cooling to about 4 million square feet of campus.

CHA conducted a feasibility study involving hydraulic modeling of the cooling system and identified LSC as the optimal solution. Despite a higher initial investment, LSC provided a cooling method that avoided CFC-containing equipment and its associated energy use. LSC draws cold water through a 2mm wedge-wire screened intake 10 feet above the lake bed. This water is piped to a shoreline heat exchange, transferring its coldness via stainless-steel plates to another pipeline circulating through the campus. The lake's ecological balance is maintained, returning water via a diffuser about 500 ft offshore. Chilled water cools campus equipment and buildings via a closed loop without added energy beyond what's necessary for water circulation through the pipelines.  Regarded as "a project that supports a sustainable future," the LSC significantly reduced Cornell's dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in annual electricity savings of around 25,000,000 kilowatt-hours.

Project summary


86% reduction in energy use.


Saved 25,000,000 kilowatt-hours

4M sf.

Cooled 4 million square feet of campus.

Talk to an expert

John Joyce, P.Eng.*

John Joyce, P.Eng.*
Associate Vice President, Business Practice Leader, Power and Thermal Generation

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John has over two decades of experience gained from the roles of Business Manager for Hatch Energy and Director of Operations for Trenergy Inc. He also has international experience in business development, corporate governance and project execution for the power generation and heavy industrial machinery industries.