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Recovery Act Funding Enables Berkeley Lab to Help Federal Agencies Improve Energy Efficiency

Recovery Act logo

The U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has received $1.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to provide technical expertise to federal energy managers. The funding will enable Berkeley Lab scientists to provide technical expertise to help federal energy managers perform projects and monitor their performance. Work will focus on advanced energy-efficient technologies in lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and control systems for the buildings, laboratories, and data centers of several federal agencies.

"This funding will help implement energy efficiency projects across the federal government and will support training programs for energy managers to ensure the equipment is operating as effectively as possible," said Arun Majumdar, Director of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD). "The Recovery Act funding will also go to developing and delivering advanced energy assessment tools that will provide energy managers with the resources and training to launch additional efficiency improvements in their facilities for years to come."

High-rise buildings

At least eight Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) technical assistance projects will help five civilian agencies and facilities in all branches of the Armed Services achieve their energy reduction and renewable energy goals. The Berkeley Lab EETD Applications Team will provide technical assistance, with a dual mission of transferring energy-efficient building technologies from the laboratory to the real world and stimulating the use of underutilized, high-performance technologies through innovative deployment programs. The Team has improved laboratory energy efficiency for decades, beginning with energy management efforts at Berkeley Lab that reduced its energy costs by 40% in the 1970s and 1980s.

The FEMP's mission is to facilitate the federal government's implementation of sound, cost-effective energy management and investment practices to enhance the nation's energy security and environmental stewardship. Its activities include retrofitting federal facilities to improve energy efficiency and working with agencies to deploy renewable energy technologies.

Berkeley Lab will support the following projects:

Improving Efficiency in Federal Data Centers

Berkeley Lab researchers are playing a key role in national efforts to reduce data center energy use, a rapidly growing demand source. Experts from EETD will train data center staff at several agencies in energy-efficient technologies and practices and apply DCPro, a Berkeley Lab-produced software tool that assesses energy savings opportunities in data centers.

Agency staff also will receive training in data center design, energy management, and best practices, as well as guidance documents, best practices guides, and design assistance documentation produced by Berkeley Lab and its affiliates for the Data Centers for the 21st Century program. Recipient agencies will include the U.S. Department of Energy for its own data centers, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Pacific Command, which represents facilities of all four armed services in Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific.

Energy Efficiency Retrofits for Department of Agriculture Labs

Berkeley Lab's Applications Team will provide the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) with design assistance for remodeling and retrofitting its Albany, California, regional research center and for other identically designed regional research centers across the United States.

"ARS will be one of the earliest beneficiaries of a screening tool the A-Team has developed for identifying efficiency opportunities in laboratories. It will receive not only a number of pilot assessments using the tool, but also training of USDA personnel on how to use the tool for conducting their own assessments," says Charles Williams, an energy expert in Berkeley Lab's Applications Team.

Healthy Lighting for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Applications Team staff will help the National Institutes of Health evaluate and install energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. The Team will work with NIH staff to develop and quantitatively evaluate test-beds for programmable spectral lighting for hospital rooms, animal vivaria, offices, and labs.

In these test-beds, they will study how to optimize health and productivity by programming the spectrum and timing of solid-state LED light sources. Berkeley Lab researchers will also work with the General Services Administration to set up demonstrations and evaluations of six to ten pilot projects for smart building technologies, such as testing integrated controls for building systems. They will use enterprise management software to help design a regional operation center for buildings. EETD's Francis Rubinstein will participate in this project.

Helping the Armed Forces be as Energy-Efficient as They Can Be

The Applications Team will help the Navy accelerate its use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) to implement energy conservation measures through third-party financing. It will develop a template for site data packages that accelerate selection of an ESPC contractor and guidance for energy audits that are required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), so that these audits lead directly to the implementation of identified ESPC energy saving opportunities. These templates and guidance will be coordinated with similar efforts being conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the State Department and by FEMP staff for DOE sites, with the aim of providing a standard, streamlined approach for all federal agencies to use in procuring ESPC services.

With $663,000 in Department of Defense (DOD) funding, including $455,000 from the Recovery Act, EETD researchers, including Philip Haves and Mary Ann Piette, working with United Technologies Research Center, will cooperate on a project to test a whole-building monitoring system at two DOD sites in partnership with the Navy and the Air Force. The system will continuously measure the energy performance of the HVAC, lighting, and water systems and compare these measurements in real time to a reference simulation model that represents the design intent for each building.

"Identifying the causes of water and energy waste in buildings can be challenging because energy flows and water usage are largely invisible," says Haves, leader of EETD's Commercial Buildings Group. "The aim of this project is to present building and facility managers with actionable information on equipment faults and operational problems so that they can improve the performance of their buildings, often at little or no cost."

The comparison will allow building operators to identify and quantify places within their facilities that are operating below their targeted efficiency levels. Building managers can use this information to compare various solutions and their effects on the whole building, as well as to measure improved performance once the issue is resolved. The system will be based on open-source, publicly available software that can be run on personal computers and make use of existing sensing and control systems within buildings.

The two facilities scheduled for the demonstration are a building at the Naval Facilities Engineering Center in Port Hueneme, California, and a facility at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

Finally, the Army's Fort Detrick in Maryland will receive an assessment of the viability of supplying all or part of the electric load in selected areas with photovoltaic solar panels.

"We look forward to helping these agencies make the progress on energy efficiency and renewable energy that America needs to address global climate change as well as meeting the goals of the Recovery Act by helping to jumpstart the economy," says Williams.

EETD's Williams and Rick Diamond are serving as liaisons to recipient agencies. Numerous EETD staff will participate in these efforts, including Francis Rubinstein, Dale Sartor, Bill Tschudi, Rich Brown, Geoffrey Bell, Paul Mathew, Anthony Radspieler, Mike Holda, and Peter Biermayer.

— Charles Williams

For more information, contact:

  • Charles Williams
  • (510) 495-2892

Berkeley Lab's Recovery Act website.

This work is being funded by the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) and the Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, which provided $1.4 million and $445,000, respectively. Funding is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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