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Research Highlights

Miscellaneous Electricity Usage Growing

As the number of small appliances increases in households, so does the percentage of total electricity they require. While the refrigerator has typically been the largest electricity-using appliance in the home (roughly 10% of total usage), recent investigations by EETD scientist Alan Meier show that the combined usage of other, smaller appliances often approaches this figure. Average households often contain several television sets, VCRs, and cable boxes. Home computers and peripheral devices (printers, scanners, and modems) are also prevalent, as are cordless phones, cell phones, fax and answering machines, and audio equipment. Adding to this list are rechargeable appliances, remote-control garage door openers, and burglar alarms. What much of this equipment has to do with the high percentage of electricity use is its "leaks." While appliances do not actually allow electricity to escape, many devices maintain internal clocks, signal reception capability, and an instant-on feature; they also display the time and their power status. The instant-on feature means that the "completely off" feature is not present and the device is actually drawing a small amount of electricity at all times, usually less than one Watt. As the number of devices increases, of course, so do the number of leaks. With the final tally often equaling the refrigerator's consumption. In the larger picture, leaking electricity could be contributing as much as 12 million tons (metric) of carbon to global emissions because of increased demand.

Pie chart illustrating the growth of miscellaneous electricity usage: Home Office ~3%, Telephony 0.6%, Audio 1.8%, Set-tops 0.6%, VCRs 0.8%, TVs 2.8%

Meier's suggested solutions to this phenomenon include improving the efficiency of low-voltage transformers, moving the switch to the high-voltage side, and installing "smart" recharging circuits. He estimates that the needed improvements would add little or no additional cost to the overall cost of appliances and yet could reduce leaks by as much as 75%. More information can be found at the Standby Power web site.

ProForm: New Software for Environmental Impact Assessment

ProForm is a new software tool designed to support a basic assessment of the environmental and financial impacts of renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects. ProForm calculates basic financial indicators and avoided emissions of CO2 and local air pollutants expected from a project.

As a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet-based tool, ProForm is easy to use, yet sophisticated enough to provide credible results. A typical ProForm application could be the preparation of a project proposal that developers might submit to potential investors, financiers, or a national climate change office. ProForm allows project developers, financial institutions, and other parties to investigate how changes in basic assumptions affect the key parameters of a project.

The software can be used to assess renewable energy projects that involve either electricity generation or non-electric energy production, as well as energy-efficiency projects that save electricity and/or fossil fuels. ProForm will evaluate a range of project sizes, from a single installation, such as an energy-efficiency improvement at a factory or the construction of a wind turbine, to programs that involve installing multiple units of a technology, such as residential lighting-efficiency measures.

ProForm calculates emissions of CO2 and several local air pollutants that may be avoided. It allows the user to construct a baseline that reflects changes in emissions impacts expected over the lifetime of the project. The main financial results are the project's internal rate of return and net present value with and without revenue from carbon credits. By modifying assumptions regarding the value of carbon credits, the user can assess what the financial impact of these credits would be under varying future scenarios. This work was initiated with seed funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and is currently supported by funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

EETD is now looking for ProForm beta testers. As a beta tester, you will be requested to input project specs of your own devising, change various parameters in the spreadsheet, evaluate the results, and inform the software developers of mistakes and irregularities. You will need to sign a licensing agreement, but the ProForm software license is free. Contact Bill Golove (; (510) 486-5229; (510) 486-6996 fax).

EETD Holds Measurement and Verification Training

This spring, EETD held a training course on monitoring, evaluation, reporting, verification and certification (MERVC) of greenhouse gas emission reductions for government officials from energy, forestry, and other ministries concerned with climate-change issues. There were 21 participants from six countries. The training, which took place May 8 through 26, focused on using the forestry sector in greenhouse gas mitigation programs. It was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and administered through the Institute for International Education.

The MERVC forestry training addressed a variety of issues, from designing forest programs for carbon conservation and sequestration to measuring and verifying carbon reduction results of these programs. The training included discussion of actual forestry projects in Zimbabwe and Costa Rica and field trips to UC Berkeley soil laboratories and a certified forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California. The chief course instructors were EETD's Ed Vine and Jayant Sathaye; other instructors were drawn from EETD, UC Berkeley faculty, and other organizations.

Search for Indoor Air Department Head

EETD is looking for a scientific leader to step into the role of Department Head of the Indoor Environment Department (IED).

Responsibilities: The IED head is in charge of about 55 staff and an annual $6 million budget, conducting research on indoor environmental quality; exposure and risk; health; indoor air and pollutant transport and chemistry; building heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; and building energy performance. The department head provides scientific leadership, develops and implements strategies to maintain and strengthen the Department's research, assures research quality, fosters an environment that supports staff development, raises research funds, provides administrative and financial oversight, and manages the Department. The department head is also expected to develop and manage research projects.

Qualifications: An international reputation as a leader in indoor-environmental research, or in a closely related field, and a record of scientific excellence. The record should also demonstrate excellence in managing substantial research activities and a strong commitment to developing junior staff. An individual's interdisciplinary perspective could include chemistry, applied physics, engineering, health sciences, building technology, or environmental science, with an appreciation of the relevance of research on indoor environment to society. The person must work with others to create a broad vision for the department and invest substantial energy in achieving that vision. Familiarity with federally funded research programs, particularly those of the U.S. Department of Energy, is highly desirable. An advanced degree in science or engineering is expected.

To apply: Mail a curriculum vitae, a statement of interest, copies of up to three publications, and a list of five references to Professor William Nazaroff, Chair of IED Head Search Committee, c/o S.L. Harding, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, One Cyclotron Road, MS 90-1127, Berkeley, CA 94720. Review of applications will begin on August 15. The position will remain open until filled. Berkeley Lab is an AA/EEO Employer. A more complete description is also available on the web.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Indoor Environment Department Head Joan Daisey. Dr. Daisey died in February after a long illness. EETD News will carry an article about her many scientific accomplishments and contributions in the next issue. Readers can view a brief on-line biography online.

A search is now underway to fill the IED Head position. Please refer to the story above which lays out the requirements for this position.

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