AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Energy is more than power plants and the utility from where many get their electricity. It also has what are called district cooling plants.

It has partnered with the Highland Campus of Austin Community College to construct another district cooling plant. The plant has one function — it serves as a massive air conditioner for the campus and its approximately 8,200 students.

Million of gallons of water are chilled in a machine called, simply, a chiller. It’s when this water is chilled that makes this plant environmentally friendly. Many of us are asleep when the water is chilled.

James Matlock, Austin Energy’s environmental policy program manager, said the chilling is done late at night when the demand on the grid is less and power is less expensive. Thus, there is less stress on the grid during the day when the cool water for HVAC cools classrooms and offices.

This cooling plant meets the goals of the Austin Energy Green Building Program. There is a 24/7 monitoring system and preventive maintenance program.

For Austin Community College, it’s all about keeping the students and staff cool.

Aziz Hussaini is the ACC interim vice chancellor of facilities.

He said it’s also a good way for the college to be good stewards of dollars spent by the students and their families by lowering the cost of electricity while at the same time being good stewards of the environment.

The chilling plant at the ACC Highland Campus is not the only one Austin Energy manages.

There are four of these in downtown Austin including one at the Austin Convention Center. One is housed at The Domain and another at the Mueller Development.