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Leading by Example: In-House Energy Management at LBNL

The U.S. federal government is among the largest energy users in the nation. The Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (see the next article in this issue) has been the focal point for helping all government agencies manage their in-house energy use. DOE's own energy bill ranks second after the Department of Defense. Energy management has naturally been a high priority within DOE's own facilities, and Berkeley Lab has long been an active participant in that effort.

Darren Bauer operating a new 600 ton chiller at B34

Since the mid-1980s, Berkeley Lab's In-House Energy Management (IHEM) group has led the way in saving energy in our own facilities. IHEM staff review virtually every construction project from an energy-efficiency standpoint, enforce state and federal energy-efficiency requirements, carry out energy audits, analyze energy consumption and spending trends, and work to enhance employee energy awareness. Through a recent merger with the Lab's Engineering Division, the IHEM team is more involved than ever in integrating energy management and mechanical system engineering with conceptual design, study, construction, and day-to-day operations and maintenance.

Over the past 14 years, the IHEM program has reduced energy intensity per square foot at the Lab by almost 35%. This corresponds to an annual savings of over $1.7 million in energy costs.

Fred Burt adjusting a Direct Digital Control system

While most of the projects involve relatively familiar buildings-related retrofits, the IHEM group's mandate also extends to sophisticated—and often energy-intensive—research facilities. One of the earliest projects involved enormous magnets on our Bevatron—a huge 6-billion-electron-volt particle accelerator. Electricity costs were extremely high, limiting the number of experiments that could be performed within available research budgets. Energy retrofits involving more efficient magnets and other measures reduced bills and made it possible to conduct additional research at the facility.

Tom Horsfall measuring chilled water flow.

More conventional conservation measures include lighting, motor-driven systems, chiller plants, laboratory ventilation, and improved energy monitoring and control systems (EMCS). The EMCS now has over 10,000 sensor points in about 150 buildings. Commissioning of retrofit projects and new construction has become routine, with the help of outside specialists.

Two 1999 projects recently won awards from DOE. These projects successfully reduced the annual operating hours of over 30 exhaust fans and improved the energy efficiency of more than 2,000 light fixtures. The lighting project also involved the redesign of office furniture fixture layouts and lamp retrofits, saving $43,500 annually.

Also in the lighting arena, LED exit signs (which save approximately 90% compared to incandescent signs) have been installed throughout the site.

On the horizon is more focus on environmental design. A new Operations Building will showcase 'green' building design and a prototype for future construction at Berkeley Lab. The building will include an efficient building envelope, high-albedo roof coating (to control air-conditioning costs), natural lighting, high-efficiency windows optimized for each wall orientation, under-floor air supply, natural convection-assisted low-pressure ventilation, individual-preference and occupancy-based ventilation and temperature controls, and indirect-direct evaporative cooling. The building will also use a high proportion of recycled steel as well as recycled materials in the building panels, carpeting, fabric, tiles, and other elements.

The Lab is also addressing transportation energy issues. This year the Lab will add at least 12 new 90-hp electric pickup trucks to the 260-vehicle fleet now on the site. This is in keeping with Federal Executive Order 13031 (1996) which requires 75% of replacement "nonspecial-purpose" vehicles in federal fleets to use alternative fuels. The Lab promotes employee use of public transportation by offering pre-tax purchases of tickets and passes, and encourages use of bicycles by providing shuttle bus bike racks, bike parking, and a special Web site.

Berkeley Lab's energy managers continue to interact with EETD researchers, particularly through the Applications Team. One example is development of Federal Energy Management Performance Measurement and Verification Guidelines, designed to facilitate third-party financing of energy retrofits and to help ensure that predicted energy savings are achieved in practice.

— Evan Mills

For more information, contact:

  • Evan Mills
  • (510) 486-6784; fax (510) 486-5394

Visit the HVAC&R Ship web site.

This work is supported by Berkeley Lab's internal operation budgets and by the U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program.

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