CBS Newsletter
Winter 1997
pg. 8

A-Team Report

The A-Team Does "The Rock"

Jim Christensen, Tai Voong, Naomi Torres

Not even Al "Scarface" Capone or Robert Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz,"-two of the most infamous prisoners of Alcatraz-would notice a difference in the lighting. Yet a significant change has occurred in the amount of power used to light interior offices and exterior corridors on the island of Alcatraz. Incandescent lamps have slowly been replaced by compact fluorescents using about one-quarter of the power.

Since it is a historic landmark, Alcatraz is protected by the National Historical Society. Keeping the "look" of Alcatraz intact has made energy-efficient lighting retrofits challenging. Compact fluorescent lamps typically look dissimilar to incandescents in size, shape, and color. Finding lamps that would blend in took some research. Tai Voong, of Berkeley Lab's In-House Energy Management project, drew on his experience in lighting retrofit projects to put together specifications covering a selection of compact fluorescents he thought might work. These specifications were reviewed by Naomi Torres, the National Park Service's Interpretive Supervisor at Alcatraz Island. Jim Christensen, Energy Coordinator for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, assisted with selecting compact fluorescents for testing.

As incandescent lamps have burned out, the National Park Service has replaced them with the more energy-efficient compact fluorescents. Torres has been alert to any feedback from the thousands of tourists that come daily to Alcatraz, but so far, she says, "no one has noticed the change." The only area in which fluorescent lighting will probably not be used is on the first floor of the cellhouse, where tourists peer into cells lit by a single bare incandescent.

Voong's work at Alcatraz is a project of the Center's Applications Team. To evaluate the cost effectiveness of various energy-efficient retrofits on the island, he has been using data loggers to monitor all of the electrical consumption for more than a year.

Another area of concern is the two diesel-fueled generators that provide the power for lights, motors, pumps, and miscellaneous plug loads. Because of the pollution and noise generated along with power, representatives from the A-Team, the National Park Service, Sandia Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been studying cleaner systems for power generation at Alcatraz. One conclusion is that even though Alcatraz has more than enough wind to capture its energy in a power generation system, wind turbines in all potential locations are visible to tour boats. However, the researchers have found a possible location for a photovoltaic power system that would keep it hidden from view. In the meantime, the National Park Service is doing what it can to reduce consumption of the costly diesel fuel.

—Antonia Reaves

Info icon

Tai Voong
In-House Energy Management Project
(510) 486-5015; (510) 486-4101 fax

This work is sponsored by the Federal Energy Management Program.


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