District Energy & Cooling Design

Criteria for Connecting To and Working On District Cooling Systems

District cooling provides customers with their HVAC requirements through a network of underground pipes. A district cooling plant distributes chilled water (approximately 44 to 45 degrees) to the customer's building through a set of heat exchangers that are located in the customer's mechanical room. A single plant can meet the cooling needs of several buildings. Austin Energy currently has district cooling systems in the central business district, the Domain, the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Redevelopment Zone, and Austin Community College Highland Campus.

Follow our criteria, requirements, and guidelines when connecting to or working on district cooling systems to ensure your facilities are built properly.

The documents listed below will be updated annually and are for the current year. If you need earlier versions, email District Energy and Cooling Design.

Safety and Clearance Requirements

Contractors, building owners, and engineers who work near or on our chilled water transmission pipe should review section 1.15.0 of the Austin Energy Design Criteria Manual (pdf) for information about district energy and cooling clearance zones and requirements for contractors.

Right of Way Design and Specifications

In addition to the Austin Energy Design Criteria Manual, please follow these specifications and details when building, maintaining, or repairing our chilled water transmission piping and customer service piping in the right of way.

Customer Connection Requirements

These documents define Austin Energy requirements for buildings that are connected to our chilled water pipeline.

  • Customer Connection Requirements (pdf) — Details requirements for the building owner or contractor to adhere to when using chilled water.
  • Best Practices (pdf) — Lists a set of design considerations for the design engineer when designing the building’s HVAC system.
  • Customer Connection Flowchart (coming soon) — Describes how the process works from design to implementation when connecting to our chilled water transmission pipe.
  • Customer Easement Information (pdf) — Defines the type of easements required by the building owner.
  • Letter of Intent (LOI) form (coming soon) — The Letter of Intent form is a blanket form that the building owner submits for indicating their intended use of chilled water for their building.
  • Chilled Water Service Agreement (CWSA) form (coming soon) — The standard contract agreement between District Energy and Cooling and the building owner.

Mechanical Room / Plant Design and Specifications

These documents define Austin Energy's requirements for building mechanical rooms and chiller plant design. These specifications are used for our chilled water systems inside our building mechanical rooms. The MEP design criteria manual will define requirements for our chilled water plants.

Additional Resources

District Energy and Cooling specifications reference the following resources:

Contact Us

Email: Austin Energy District Energy and Cooling


Date last reviewed or modified: 5/1/22


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