Basically, a district cooling system (DCS) distributes cooling capacity in the form of chilled water or other medium from a central source to multiple buildings through a network of underground pipes for use in space and process cooling. Individual user purchases chilled water for their building from the district cooling system operator and do not need to install their own chiller plants. For this system, a central chiller plant, a pump house and a distribution pipeline network are required.
The DCS is an energy-efficient air-conditioning system as it consumes 35% and 20% less electricity as compared with traditional air-cooled air-conditioning systems and individual water-cooled air-conditioning systems using cooling towers respectively. In some countries that have substantial heating demand, the plant can also be designed to supply hot water to form a District Heating and Cooling System (DHCS).