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Research Highlights

Lone Pine Visitors Center Wins Energy Efficiency Award

The Eastern Sierra Inter-Agency Visitors Center, in Lone Pine, California, has received one of eight 2005 Savings By Design Energy Efficiency Integration Awards, given to non-residential projects in California. EETD's Rick Diamond and colleagues provided energy efficiency design consultation through the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program. The facility is developed and owned by the National Forest Service. The awards are funded by California's power utilities and the American Institute of Architects.

Says Diamond: "this was a great opportunity where the client, the U.S. Forest Service, was serious about their responsibility for environmental stewardship, looking for the most environmentally sensitive building for their new visitor center-and the design team responded beautifully.

For more information, see 2005 Savings by Design Awards

Mountains and Lone Pine Inter-Agency Visitor's Center
Lone Pine Inter-Agency Visitor's Center

(Left) The Eastern Sierra Inter-Agency Visitors Center, Lone Pine, California (Photo: Bill Hustace)

(Right) The design team included lightshelves and sun shades, highly reflective roofing, and fenestration that minimizes heat gain and loss and maximizes views of Mt. Whitney. (Photo: Bill Hustace)

Behind the Pritzker Prize

When workers move into the avant-garde new Federal Building in San Francisco (now under construction) they will be able to open their windows. Doing so will save more than a hundred thousand dollars in energy costs each year.

When the tower is complete, it will be only sixty-five feet wide. Natural light will flow from one side to another, eliminating the need for much artificial light. Again, more than a hundred thousand dollars in energy costs will be saved annually.

The tower will be sheathed in a stainless steel screen that hangs over its southeast facade, shading the sunny side of the building. Air conditioning will not be needed. Such innovations helped architect Thom Mayne earn the coveted Pritzker Prize for architecture. He is the first American to win the prize in 14 years.

Diagram cross-section of the building

Figure 1. A cross-section of the building, in which air flows through windows that can be opened.

But behind the glamour and innovation lie some hard work from EETD's Buildings Technologies Group. Research engineer Philip Haves developed the simulation of opening windows, natural light, and stainless steel screens to predict the energy savings for this design. Using the EnergyPlus simulation tool developed for DOE by a team of research organizations including LBNL, Haves was able to predict the performance of different natural ventilation schemes and help the design team select a scheme that will have better performance and lower first cost than the alternatives. Haves and other EETD researchers are now testing the complex control system, whereby comfortable temperatures are maintained by automatic opening and closing of windows, using a customized version of EnergyPlus.

Overall, the design is predicted to use 45% less energy than a comparable conventional building, an estimated savings of $500K yearly. When completed, the Federal Building is expected be one of San Francisco's "greenest" and most energy-efficient buildings.

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