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Research Highlights

Indoor Air Award to Berkeley Lab Researchers

A paper by William Fisk, Anna Mirer, and Mark Mendell has received a "best paper" award from the editors of the journal Indoor Air.

Cover of a Indoor Air journal.


According to the citation, "Quantitative relationship of sick building syndrome symptoms with ventilation rates," was "one of the top papers published in the journal during the years 2008-2010."

The authors were honored at one of the plenary sessions of the Indoor Air 2011 conference, which takes place this week in Austin.

Download this paper as an LBNL report. "Quantitative Relationship of Sick Building Syndrome Symptoms With Ventilation Rates" Indoor Air 19, 159-165, 2009

Cooling the Roof of Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source

A construction worker using a roofing nailer to attach the 'cool roof' shingles.

A worker installs a cool roof on Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source.

While the light produced for research inside Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab's) Advanced Light Source is among the most intense in the world, this summer workers are helping to ensure that the roof of the building stays cooler than most. The project team, managed by Berkeley Lab's Ian White, is replacing the shingles on the roof immortalized on the Berkeley Lab logo with "cool roof" shingles that will help the building reduce its cooling load and heat island effect, while meeting new guidelines for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities.

The 20,000 square-foot roof is being shingled with Owens Corning Duration Premium Cool Shingles, with an aged solar reflectance index rating of 0.30—about five times the reflectance of the old roof. Berkeley Lab's cool-roof researcher Haley Gilbert helped White select the best shingles with the use of the Cool Roof Rating Council's Rated Product Directory, an interactive online tool for selecting cool roof materials.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Study of Port of Oakland Truck Emissions Reported at Hearing

Recently, Thomas Kirchstetter, of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), and Tim Dallman and Robert Harley, of the University of California, Berkeley, presented the results of a study on the emissions of PM (particulate matter) and NOx (nitrogen oxides) from trucks at the Port of Oakland. The occasion was an August 4 hearing in Oakland, California, convened by Alameda County supervisors to discuss requirements that trucks accessing the Port reduce the pollution they emit.

Oakland Port Video

The video is taken from the front seat of the research van and shows trucks passing below. Overlaid on the video are real-time and synchronized measurements of four pollutants in truck exhaust. The red line shows CO2 (carbon dioxide) concentrations, the green shows NOx (nitrogen oxides), the black shows BC (black carbon), and the blue shows PM (particulate matter). There are four discernable peaks in CO2 that correspond to the passage of four trucks. Looking at the green line, you can see that measureable amounts of NOx were emitted from all four of these trucks. In contrast, BC and PM (black and blue lines) were emitted in clearly measurable amounts from only the first two trucks. The third and forth trucks had very low emissions of particulate matter.

Communities near ports, rail yards, and trucking hubs experience a disproportionately high level of PM emissions. Such emissions can cause or aggravate respiratory diseases.

Most of the trucks entering the Port had higher pollution emissions rates than those of new trucks. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a rule requiring, in its first phase, the replacement or PM-reduction retrofit of trucks of model years 2003 or older that enter the Port by the start of 2010. Pre-1994 models were prohibited. More than 1,300 trucks were retrofit with diesel particle control filters. Retrofits were paid in part by truck owners, and in part by $25 million in grants from CARB, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Port of Oakland.

The study, conducted by Kirchstetter, Dallman, and Harley, measured the emissions rates of PM and NOx from hundreds of trucks at the Port to determine the effects of the CARB regulation. The team made their measurements in November 2009 and June 2010. Most of the changes to Port trucks occurred between these periods.

At the hearing, Kirchstetter reported their finding that the CARB regulation resulted in decreases in average pollutant emission rates from Port trucks: a 50 percent decrease in PM and a 40 percent reduction in NOx. Moreover, the accelerated clean-up at the Port reduced truck emissions in the span of a few months; in comparison, about the same amount of reductions at another location not subject to the CARB rule took ten years.

EETD Receives DOE Award to Evaluate Fuel Cell Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded up to $1.9 million to a research team led by the Environmental Energy Technologies Division's (EETD's) Eric Masanet to develop "total cost of ownership" models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kilowatts. The work will support fuel cell research and development by assessing the impact of state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, system designs, and deployment strategies on the life-cycle cost of fuel cells in emerging markets. Other participating Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers include EETD's Adam Weber, Max Wei, James McMahon, and Michael Tucker. The award also includes scientists at the University of California at Berkeley and at Ballard Power Systems.

Fuel Cell

The fuel cell research is an example of how Berkeley Lab, through its Carbon Cycle 2.0 program, is weaving together its development of cleaner energy technologies with R&D to evaluate their potential costs, benefits, and impacts on energy, materials, and climate change.

To encourage more cost-effective design, production, and deployment of fuel cells for stationary applications, researchers and manufacturers need a better understanding of the total life-cycle costs and benefits of this "cleaner" technology option. The team will develop a total cost of ownership (TCO) approach and model for analyzing the life-cycle cost and environmental aspects of fuel cell designs, which can be used to optimize fuel cell systems for maximum economic and energy system benefits. TCO has not been applied to fuel cells much in the past.

"Analyzing the markets, performance, design and manufacturing options, societal benefits, and life-cycle costs of stationary fuel cell technologies will help manufacturers design better technology for specific markets, customers understand the costs and benefits of investing in the technology, and policymakers provide more effective incentives," says Masanet.

Read the press release here.

U.S. Department of Energy Fact Sheets Help Benchmark Efficiency Improvements

The U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) has released six fact sheets to help American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grantees and end users benchmark energy-efficiency upgrade costs and expected annual savings. The fact sheets focus on municipal, state, and federal government buildings; healthcare facilities; and universities, colleges, and K-12 schools. They provide information on the typical range of project installation costs, savings, and payback times from energy retrofits completed by energy service companies (ESCOs).

The U.S. DOE's Technical Assistance Team developed these fact sheets with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO) using project-level data from the LBNL/NAESCO Project Database. They are the culmination and summary of more than ten years of database analysis, led by Charles Goldman, leader of Berkeley Lab's Electricity Markets and Policy group.

Fact Sheet: What is Energy Savings Performance Contracting?


The LBNL/NAESCO Project Database—funded by the U.S. DOE—is the largest database of ESCO project information in the world, containing more than 3,600 projects. It includes information on project installation costs, savings, measures installed, facility physical characteristics, market segment, and location. Information for 75 percent of the projects in the database came from NAESCO's voluntary accreditation program. The rest was provided by state and federal agencies that administer performance contracting programs.

"The U.S. ESCO industry is an example of a private-sector business model where energy savings are delivered to customers primarily through the use of performance-based contracts," said Peter Larsen, a researcher at Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division. "This is our first attempt to widely distribute project-level performance benchmarking information for this growing industry."

The fact sheets provide benchmarking information for four energy retrofit strategies: major HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), minor HVAC, onsite generation, and a category for an array of other energy-efficient equipment and strategies.

The performance metrics are shown graphically, and they include: project installation cost in dollars per square foot of floor area, annual reported savings in thousands of British thermal units (kBtu) and kilowatt-hours per square foot, percentage of baseline energy saved annually, and simple payback time in years.

By referring to these fact sheets, facilities managers and other officials who are planning energy-efficiency improvements can benchmark estimates of the costs and benefits of various types of improvements for similar types of facilities.

The fact sheets were written by Berkeley Lab's Peter Larsen, Charles Goldman, and Andy Satchwell.

Download the ESCO benchmarking project fact sheets.

For more information about Berkeley Lab's Electricity Markets and Policy group, including access to publications, please visit their website.

Converting Home Energy Assessments Into Home Energy Upgrades

Megan Billingsley
Elizabeth Stuart

A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory policy brief describes to energy efficiency contractors and program managers how they can turn more energy assessments into comprehensive home energy upgrades by adding sales and business skills to their toolkit.

The policy brief, written by Megan Billingsley and Elizabeth Stuart the Electricity Markets and Policy Group of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, features a case study, advice from an experienced contractor, sample phone screening questions, and online resources. The case study focuses on Efficiency Maine, which used a sales training class to increase the rate of conversions from energy assessment to energy upgrade by 50 percent in about nine months.

Download the brief, "Contractor Sales Training: Providing the Skills Necessary to Sell Comprehensive Home Energy Upgrades." [PDF]

Energy Efficiency in India—Web Resources

Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) conduct research to analyze energy use in India, evaluate energy- efficiency opportunities in its economy, and develop roadmaps to promote lower-carbon-emitting, sustainable economic development. They also work with their Indian colleagues on joint research and provide technical consulting in a variety of areas, such as energy-efficient building design and operation.

Here are a few resources for further information.


Berkeley-India Joint Leadership on Energy and the Environment (BIJLEE)


The Berkeley-India Joint Leadership on Energy and the Environment is a partnership between the University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley Lab; and the government, private sector, and educational institutions of the United States and India to help both countries adopt pathways and approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while pursuing sustainable economic development. BIJLEE brings together researchers to develop energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies, and policy mechanisms to transfer these technologies to the marketplace, with the goal of combating climate change while promoting clean energy and economic growth.

EETD's International Energy Studies Group Activities in India

The staff of EETD's International Energy Studies Group engages with the government of India and NGO partners in India on a range of energy efficiency, climate change mitigation, and other environmental and sustainable development projects.

Recent publications from EETD address high-level energy policy issues, as well as specific sectors of India's economy, forestry's potential to mitigate carbon emissions, and technologies for more energy-efficient economic development. Some useful recent titles:

Energy-Efficient Data Centers and High-Performance Buildings in India

Recent News About EETD's Work With India

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