The Green Leaf

Seawater Air Conditioning: A cool idea

July 20th, 2011
Cold water from the depths of the ocean could help cool buildings in downtown Honolulu.

Cold water from the depths of the ocean could help cool buildings in downtown Honolulu.

Honolulu could very well be at the forefront of technology if it gets a long-talked-about seawater air-conditioning system serving downtown commercial and residential properties to become a reality. Honolulu would be just the right place to put it.

Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning LLC cleared a major hurdle today when it was granted a Conservation District Use Permit from the state to build and operate the offshore portion of its 25,000-ton seawater air conditioning district cooling system.

In one word: Cool.

Ever sit in an un-air-conditioned building, gazing out the window and wishing you could jump into the ocean to cool off? I guess that's the very idea, pumping water from the depths of the ocean (more than 1,700 feet below sea level) into a cooling system to cool off your home or building.

Apparently, it's been done in Sweden. The chilled water is delivered to the building at 44 degrees Fahrenheit 24/7. You can read more about the technology here.

It's an example of how innovation and creativity can help us get off of imported fossil fuels dependency.

Hawaii is the nation's largest per capita consumer of electricity , according to Anders Rydaker, chief operating officer of Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning. The company estimates the technology could save downtown Honolulu tenants millions of dollars and eliminate the need for 178,000 barrels of oil per year.

So many offices in Honolulu are unfortunately designed to be closed-up, air-conditioned boxes (including our office at Restaurant Row). The reality is that offices are going to turn on the air-conditioning year-round, which uses a big chunk of electricity. It would be great to use an alternative source of energy.

The project is scheduled to begin construction this year, and to begin providing chilled water services to customers in 2013. Visit

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