Research And Insight

A paradigm shift in chilled water systems

Grundfos Distributed Pumping marks a paradigm shift in chilled water systems towards a new era of decentralised pumping. Delivering on the growing demand for chilled water airconditioning, this new pumping principle raises building comfort to new levels. It also raises the bar for high performing commercial buildings, as effective water cooling significantly reduces energy consumption.

Why Distributed Pumping is needed

Global demands for energy and water cooling are intensifying

The global demand for water cooling has nearly doubled in two decades, while global energy use is projected to increase almost 25% by 20501. These factors make it critical to rethink chilled water systems and improve energy efficiency.

Distributed Pumping has the potential to save up to 54% energy

Many buildings operate with centralised and inefficient chilled water systems. Replacing balancing and control valves with distributed chilled water pumps can reduce total pump energy consumption for a chilled water loop by 54%. This amounts to a substantial energy saving2.

Around 45% of chilled water pumps run at peak-load most of the time

An estimated 45% of pumps in chilled water systems are constantly running at peak-load3. Yet this level is rarely needed, as water cooling systems run at peak consumption for a very small fraction – approximately 1-3% – of their operating time.

A new era of decentralised pumping

Many buildings have inefficient water cooling systems that are prone to over-pressurisation and low Delta T. This is often a result of poor commissioning and inefficient pump management. 
Watch this video, to learn how Grundfos Distributed Pumping can minimise energy consumption and maximise indoor comfort.


The typical challenges 

When it comes to chilled water systems, a large number of buildings still run on inefficient solutions installed decades ago. These systems typically present challenges, including poor chilled water pump control, low Delta T, non-compliance with building energy codes, and complexities in design, installation and commissioning.

Inefficiencies commonly occur when pumps sized for full-system flow and maximum pressure loss operate at too high a speed. Control and balancing valves are then relied upon to throttle the flow and pressure – much like trying to control the speed of a car with the handbrake. 

Inadequate commissioning and poor pump control also lead to system imbalance and excessive energy usage. These factors contribute to the key problem of energy waste. They also compromise indoor comfort for occupants and increase the risk of penalties for non-compliance with energy regulations.

With an increasing global focus on high-performance buildings, these challenges indicate a clear need for improved water cooling systems and chilled water pumps.

How you can optimise

Energy efficiency optimisation in buildings often focuses on energy-creating systems, like boilers and chillers. Yet energy distribution has an equally significant impact on overall energy consumption and should also be prioritised.

For instance, intelligent chilled water pumps can be installed on each floor of a building to achieve optimal energy distribution. This eliminates the need for valves in the building, since the pressure is provided only when and where it is needed.

Replacing valves with pumps also ensures optimal pressure and flow to each terminal unit at all times. This demand-driven system will enable easy commissioning, automated regulation throughout the building’s lifetime, improved Delta T, and minimum pump pressure. And all of this means significantly reduced energy usage.

The solution

Grundfos iSOLUTIONS offers a new pumping principle for chilled water systems called Distributed Pumping. The solution requires no control-, balancing- or PICV valves, as these are replaced by smaller intelligent pumps such as the Grundfos MAGNA3 overall system pressure is significantly lower as each pump generates only the amount of pressure needed.

For additional efficiency, the large primary pump is exchanged with a smaller, intelligent pump, such as the Grundfos TPE3. Intelligent pumps are connected to sensors that enable pump operation to adjust to demand. This system design results in substantially lower energy usage and significant CAPEX savings.

Ultimately, Grundfos Distributed Pumping is the most efficient way to circulate chilled water in HVAC systems today. Distributed Pumping takes building comfort and efficiency to new levels, saving OPEX, commissioning time, and energy. So, with Grundfos Distributed Pumping for commercial buildings, you can fully control a chilled water system, minimise energy and costs, and ensure a much more comfortable indoor climate.

Explore Distributed Pumping solutions

Grundfos Distributed Pumping makes it easy to balance chilled water systems and enhanced comfort in buildings. The solution replaces traditional balance and control valves with intelligent pumps.

54% energy savings

Grundfos Distributed Pumping helped Ngee Ann, a large university building in Singapore, increase Delta T by 28% and reduce total pump energy by 54% – all while providing optimal comfort for building users.


Source1: Global cooling report; International Energy Agency, June 2020

Source2: Grundfos Case Ngee Ann Polytechnic (Polytechnic Block 22), energy savings calculation of Distributed Pumping compared to conventional system

Source3: Seasonal load changes, when calculating Energy Efficiency Ratio EER and Integrated Part Load Value IPLV for chilled water systems

Related applications

Find applications from Grundfos related to this subject.

Other related articles and insights

Find related articles with research and insights from Grundfos.