CBS Newsletter
Spring 1996
pg. 3

Aerial view of Washington D.C.

News From the D.C. Office

Federal Procurement of Efficient Chillers

The replacement of large electric chillers in government facilities, driven by the phase-out of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants, presents a major opportunity to improve energy efficiency. LBNL's work for the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (DOE/FEMP) is aimed at using Federal purchasing power as a source of market pull for energy-efficient equipment, including chillers. While this effort focuses on the efficiency of the chiller itself, other LBNL activities address system interactions.(See the accompanying cover article by Dale Sartor and Allan Chen.)

Chillers are typically long-lived (25 years or more) and represent a significant capital investment. Thus, CFC replacement programs create an opportunity for all building owners, including the Federal government, to achieve substantial energy savings that will continue for many years. Also, at a time of declining funds for energy-efficiency investments, Federal chiller replacements represent a major new source of capital investment in energy savings as well as removal of CFC refrigerants. For example, Federal agencies are planning to spend $500 million during the next several years to replace or upgrade the 4,000 chillers now using CFC refrigerants. This represents 40% of the total spending by Federal agencies in the past 10 years on all other energy efficiency projects combined ($1.3 billion from 1985 to 1994).

The $4 billion spent each year on energy in Federal facilities includes the cost of operating these older chillers-nearly half of which have efficiencies between 0.8 and 1.1 kW/ton, according to a 1994 DOE survey. Today's best available commercial chillers offer efficiencies in the 0.5 to 0.6 kW/ton range. According to DOE, the energy savings from replacing just the largest (more than 100 tons) water-cooled chillers in Federal facilities is estimated at $75 million annually, or $1.4 billion (present value) over their 25-year life. Projected total savings in Federal facilities from the purchase of more efficient chillers, including lower electricity bills and avoided pollution costs, are estimated at more than $2 billion.

To streamline the procurement process and reduce the cost of replacement chillers, DOE Defense Programs is working with manufacturers to develop a Basic Ordering Agreement through the General Services Administration. This will allow purchasers in all Federal agencies to take advantage of quantity pricing and a simpler, speedier procurement process. The GSA approach gives all Federal buyers product selection while addressing energy efficiency, safety, reliability, and other performance issues through a new standard specification. Administrative costs savings are projected at $38 million.

As part of a project for DOE/FEMP led by the LBNL Washington Office, we are coordinating with DOE Defense Programs and GSA to assure that chillers purchased through the Basic Ordering Agreement meet the intent of Executive Order 12902 and the 1992 Energy Policy Act. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to purchase best-practice energy-efficient products that are in the upper 25% of the market in terms of efficiency.

In cooperation with the DOE In-House Energy Management Program, the New York State Energy R&D Authority, and the State Procurement Collaborative, LBNL has helped develop energy efficiency specifications for water-cooled centrifugal and screw compressors. These criteria are based on manufacturer-reported data using established Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute test methods and set minimum levels for either full-load or part-load performance (depending on the intended use of the chiller). The criteria start with the 25% most efficient chiller models on the market, with adjustments made to assure multiple sources of supply to maintain a competitive procurement process.

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A. McKane and J. Harris
LBNL D.C. Project Office
1250 Maryland Ave, SW, Suite 500
Washington D.C. 20024
(202) 484-0880; (510) 484-0888 fax


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