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D.C. Office Tackles FEMP Initiatives on Government Energy-Efficient Procurement

To help reduce taxpayer dollars and the federal energy bill, presidential Executive Order 13123 and Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR Part 23) direct agencies to purchase Energy Star® labeled products. For product groups where Energy Star programs do not yet exist, agencies must buy products that are in the upper 25% of energy efficiency as designated by the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). Since 1995, researchers at Berkeley Lab's Washington D.C. Projects Office have been providing FEMP with technical and analytical support for the directives in the executive order. The author and Donald Mauritz, under Jeff Harris' supervision, have been helping federal agencies identify energy-efficient technologies. The team does this by analyzing appropriate products, developing FEMP efficiency recommendations, training agencies in the use of the recommendations, and researching various agency guide specifications for energy-efficiency performance levels. Guide specifications are used by many federal agencies for new construction and renovation projects.

There are two ways for purchasers to identify energy-efficient equipment: the Energy Star label, based on efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with input from manufacturers and retailers, and FEMP's Product Efficiency Recommendation.

Collage with ENERGY STAR products including chillers, boilers, fluorescent luminaires, and exit signs

FEMP Recommendations for federal procurement of energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR products include chillers, boilers, fluorescent luminaires, and exit signs.

The Berkeley Lab team focuses on procurement initiatives at FEMP. Primary responsibilities include analyzing efficiency performance levels for various HVAC products and training procurement officials at federal agencies to identify and procure these energy-efficient products. It is not only important to evaluate the marketplace so that agencies can easily identify energy-efficient products, it is also essential to disseminate the information to federal buyers, ensuring that agencies understand the resources provided by the Berkeley team and use them in their daily procurement activities.

Although FEMP collaborates with Energy Star initiatives, Berkeley's team in Washington D.C. works primarily for FEMP to develop the popular series of Product Efficiency Recommendations and analyze the upper 25% of efficient models for products not yet covered by Energy Star. The Berkeley team creates databases of various products, ranks efficiency from best to worst, and draws a line at the efficiency level that beats 75% of the models in the data set: FEMP has placed restrictions on the analysis. Levels can only be published if there are at least three manufacturers that can meet the level; also, FEMP requires that all the models in any data set meet at least the DOE national standard (if applicable) or ASHRAE's 90.1, a voluntary, widely used, building efficiency code.

FEMP's Recommendations, typically two pages long, show the top 25th percentile levels and identify the federal supply sources (e.g., the General Services Administration or the Defense Logistics Agency) that offer these energy-efficient products. Federal buyers will also find a cost-effectiveness example to help them compare annual and life-cycle energy savings. In addition, Berkeley Lab's team developed interactive, web-based cost calculator tools from these cost-effectiveness examples, allowing purchasers to calculate lifetime energy costs associated with improved efficiencies. FEMP's Recommendations also offer tips to help buyers save energy in specifying, installing, and using the products. According to Beth Shearer, FEMP's Director, "FEMP's Recommendations provide agencies with an excellent screening resource to help in their energy-efficient purchasing decisions."

FEMP has also tasked the Berkeley team with researching federal guide specifications to ensure that energy-efficiency performance levels are incorporated. Mauritz has been the lead researcher on federal guide specifications. He explains the importance of guide specifications: "The FEMP procurement program focuses primarily on energy-efficient purchases as viable replacement options. However, guide specifications target the initial design phase of a project and identify what must be installed during construction, which can heavily affect the installation of energy-efficient products in new or renovated buildings."

Header from FEMP web site

FEMP continues to rely on the Berkeley team in the D.C. office. Since 1994, FEMP has funded 100% of the Berkeley team's work on the Buying Energy-Efficient Products Program. As of November 2002, FEMP had published 45 Recommendations for various energy-efficient commercial and residential products.

Berkeley Lab's development of FEMP's efficiency recommendations helps ensure that federal buyers can have confidence that the equipment they buy will help agencies achieve the goals of Executive Order 13123, save taxpayer dollars, and have minimum impact on the environment. In a report to FEMP on energy savings associated with government and institutional purchasing, Jeff Harris adds, "to put it in dollars and sense, assuming there is 100% market penetration of the FEMP-designated products purchased by 2010 by the federal government, there is a potential for $1 billion dollars in energy savings."

— Michelle Ware

For more information, contact:

  • Jeffrey Harris
  • (202) 646-7960; fax (202) 646-7800

This work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program.

Energy-Efficient Product Recommendations are available online or in print as a loose-leaf binder, Buying Energy-Efficient Products. For more information on the recommendations or to obtain a copy of the binder, call 1-800-363-3732 or visit the FEMP web site.

Download the detailed report Harris, J. and F. Johnson. Potential Energy, Cost, and CO2 Savings from Energy-Efficient Government Purchasing, LBNL report 42719.

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