Environmental Energy Technologies Division News

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Around the Division

Better and More Efficient Lighting for Post Office Workers

Rodeo, California Post Office

(Left to right) Michael Siminovitch of EETD, Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank, and Headquarters Environmental Manager Bernie Denno of the Postal Service at the Rodeo, California, Post Office under the lighting system developed at Berkeley Lab.

Working with the U.S. Postal Service, EETD researchers have developed an integrated, energy-efficient task-lighting system for individual mail-sorting stations. The new system features smaller fixtures with new optics, fluorescent lamps, and electronic ballasts mounted in a high-efficiency fixture that sends 80 percent of the light to the work surface. Each workstation is controlled by an occupancy sensor. The improved lighting system reduces lighting energy costs by 30 percent. A prototype of the system is installed in the Rodeo, California, Post Office. Based on the findings of pilot projects, the Postal Service is planning to incorporate the beneficial aspects of this project into future facility designs.

For more information, contact Michael Siminovitch ( , (510) 486-5863).

Gasoline Additive Examined

EETD researcher Don Lucas participated in a recent multivolume University of California study of the gasoline additive MTBE. Along with fellow researchers Bob Sawyer and Cathy Koshland, Lucas studied the effects of MTBE on air emissions from vehicles. The study, "Health and Environmental Assessment of MTBE," was delivered to the Governor and the California legislature in November 1998. The full text and other downloadable documents pertaining to MTBE are available on the Web at the Health and Environmental Assessment of MTBE web site.

For more information, contact Don Lucas ( , (510) 486-7002).

Spectrally Selective Low-E Detector Reassures Builders

With DOE and California Institute for Energy Efficiency (CIEE) co-support, researchers Dariush Arasteh, Brent Griffith, Chad Goudey, Christian Kohler, and Daniel Turner developed a prototype of a simple hand-held detector to determine the coating (none, regular low-e, or spectrally selective low-e) on a double-glazed window. An infrared light-emitting diode and phototransistor measure reflectance in the near-infrared portion of the solar spectrum (where coating technologies have significantly different reflectances, which can't be detected by the human eye). One of three LEDs then illuminates, indicating which of the coatings is present.

The detector was recently tested by consultants at ConSol Inc. of Stockton, California, who were involved in several tract developments where spectrally selective low-e windows were specified to meet the California energy code or ENERGY STAR® homes criteria.

More information may be obtained by contacting Dariush Arasteh.

Energy Efficiency as an Insurance Loss-Prevention Strategy

LBNL's insurance initiative has released several new reports: an inventory of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies from nine national laboratories that help prevent insurance losses, a review of insurance industry concerns pertaining to indoor air-quality problems, a report on ultraviolet water disinfection for U.S. natural disaster recovery situations, and a case study—carried out in collaboration with Arkwright Mutual Insurance Co. and Boston Edison—of how fire safety was enhanced when halogen torchiere light fixtures were replaced with energy-efficient alternatives at Northeastern University.

For more information, contact Evan Mills (, (510) 486-6784, Insurance In A Climate of Change).

EETD Helps Puts Some Air in California's Energy Standards

EETD researchers have contributed a series of findings to the new Alternative Calculation Method (ACM) used in Title 24, California's building code. The ACM, the primary design method for new homes, allows designers trade-offs to achieve levels of energy efficiency in flexible ways.

The research shows that lower duct efficiency defaults provide incentives within the standard for designers to provide a more efficient duct system. As a result of LBNL research that measured duct-sealant longevity, the new ACM does not allow thermal distribution credit if duct tape is used as the primary sealant.

An important barrier to increased duct or envelope tightness levels had been the concern that indoor air quality could be compromised at the expense of energy efficiency. To assure minimum ventilation rates in buildings, Division researchers worked with the California Energy Commission to incorporate ASHRAE Standard 62-89 (Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality) into the code in an energy-efficient manner.

More information can be obtained by contacting Max Sherman (, (510) 486-4022).

Research described on this page is sponsored by the United States Postal Service, the Federal Energy Management Program, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Institute for energy Efficiency, the Department of Energy's Office of Building Technology, STate and Community Programs the California Energy Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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