News and Events November 30, 2011

  • National Laboratory ‘Flips Switch’ on East Coast’s Largest Solar Array
  • Town Known for First Thanksgiving is Grateful for Energy Savings

News and Events

Savings of 18.5% for Buildings that Meet 2010 Energy Standard: DOE

Photo of a large, horseshoe shaped, office building.

NREL’s Research Support Facility, which was among the top green buildings in 2011, showcases higher efficiency strategies.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

DOE announced on November 21 that its analysis shows buildings meeting a 2010 energy efficiency standard will use 18.5% less energy than structures using the previous (2007) standard. The latest version of Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, will save commercial building owners energy and money, according to DOE’s analysis. It will also help them meet their sustainability goals and reduce carbon pollution. When DOE issues a final determination, states are expected to review the new code provisions and update their building code to meet or exceed the energy efficiency of the new standard within two years. Certification statements by the states are due October 18, 2013.

The DOE noted that the newer version of the standard contains 19 positive impacts on energy efficiency, including some changes resulting from public comments. Among the modifications are new requirements for daylighting controls under skylights and commissioning of daylighting controls; increased use of heat recovery; cool roofs in hot climates; skylights and daylighting in some building types; reduced ventilation energy; supply air temperature reset for non-peak conditions; efficiency requirements for data centers; lower lighting power densities; control of exterior lighting; and occupancy sensors for many specific applications.

DOE analyzed the energy codes published by the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America to determine the potential for energy efficiency improvements in buildings that adhere to the code. For its findings, DOE simulated 16 representative building types in 15 U.S. climate locations. The standard covers a wide spectrum of the energy-related components and systems in buildings ranging from simple storage units to complex hospitals and laboratories. Structures also ranged from those smaller than single-family homes to the largest buildings in the world. See the DOE Progress Alert, the final determination regarding Standard 90.1PDF, the Building Energy Codes Program website, and the ASHRAE press release.

Huntsville Launches DOE-Supported Home Energy Upgrade Program

DOE on November 15 recognized the launch of the Huntsville WISE Gold Program, one of DOE’s Better Buildings Neighborhood projects. The Huntsville WISE Gold Program in Alabama is one of more than 40 Better Buildings Neighborhood projects nationwide bringing the public and private sectors together to provide American homes and businesses with high-quality and accessible energy improvements that save money and create new jobs. The Huntsville program is part of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, which receives funding from DOE’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program and its State Energy Program.

The Huntsville WISE Gold Program provides a comprehensive suite of resources for homeowners looking to save money on their energy bills and make their homes more comfortable. The program educates homeowners on potential home energy savings and provides opportunities for them to receive energy assessments to identify which particular home upgrades would most effectively reduce their energy costs. Homeowners who implement efficiency measures that produce energy savings of 20% receive rebates of $350 for the initial energy assessment and up to $400 in additional rebates. See the DOE press release and the Better Buildings website.

DOE Highlights Commissioning of Army Fuel Cell System

DOE on November 17 recognized the commissioning of an innovative fuel cell system at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The fuel cell will supply the facility with emergency backup power. The four-stack system is one of the first of 18 fuel cells to be installed and operated at military bases across the country under an interagency partnership between DOE and the Department of Defense. Under the partnership, the departments test how the fuel cells perform in real-world operations, identify technical improvements manufacturers can make to enhance performance, and highlight the benefits of fuel cells for emergency backup power applications.

Compared with batteries, fuel cells are a reliable source of backup power because they offer long continuous run times and greater durability in harsh outdoor environments, which makes them ideal power sources for military applications. Unlike traditional electricity generators used for backup power, fuel cells use no petroleum and are quieter. And, they produce fewer pollutants and emissions than traditional generators do. Fuel cells also typically require less maintenance than either batteries or traditional generators do, and they can easily be monitored remotely to reduce maintenance time.

Aberdeen Proving Ground will also install three 5-killowatt (kW) fuel cells to provide critical back up power to its Range Control and Coordination Building, and an 8-kW fuel cell to provide backup power to the Snow Emergency building. Seven other military installations will install emergency fuel cell backup power under the memorandum of understanding signed by DOE and Defense in 2010. The Defense Department will manage the $6.6 million project, and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will collect performance data for the first two years of this five-year demonstration, making the data available to fuel cell developers and commercial and government leaders interested in adopting this technology. See the DOE press release and DOE’s Fuel Cells Technology Program website.

DOD Picks 2012 Energy Technology Installation Demos

The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Environmental Security Technology Certification Program on November 18 announced 27 new projects to demonstrate emerging energy technologies on military installations. The Installation Energy Test Bed initiative plays a key role in testing, evaluating, and scaling up innovative new energy technologies to improve DOD’s energy security and reduce its facility energy costs. DOD has 300,000 buildings on its installations and spends nearly $4 billion per year on the energy needed to operate them. Demonstrations generate the cost and performance data needed to validate promising technologies, allowing them to be “fielded” and commercialized more rapidly.

This latest round of projects was competitively selected from the 575 proposals submitted by private firms, universities, and federal organizations. The fiscal year 2012 awards cover five areas: smart microgrids and energy storage; advanced component technologies to improve building energy efficiency; advanced building energy management and control technologies; tools and processes for design, assessment, and decision-making associated with energy use; and technologies for renewable energy generation on installations.

On one project, Soladigm Inc, along with partners including DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will demonstrate dynamic windows to optimize solar heat gain and daylighting at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California. On another project, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and partners will develop and apply a fleet management tool to schedule charging of plug-in electric vehicles at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. See the DOD press release and Installation Energy Test Bed Web page.

Energy Blog

National Laboratory ‘Flips Switch’ on East Coast’s Largest Solar Array

On November 18, the DOE Brookhaven National Laboratory “flipped the switch” on the largest solar photovoltaic array in the eastern United States. The 164,312 solar panels hosted at the lab in New York state—one of the largest solar farms built on federal property—will produce enough energy to power up to 4,500 homes.

The 32-megawatt Long Island Solar Farm Project, a collaborative project between the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and BP Solar International, Inc. (BP Solar), also boasts the smallest carbon footprint of any solar array with its amount of output. The use of a DOE site has helped attract investments from public and private sources, ensuring the economic success of the project and serving the nation’s goal to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil.

“The result is a significant source of clean energy for Long Island, as well as a positive economic impact for the local workforce and businesses,” said Mike Petrucci, CEO of BP Solar, noting that a true “team effort” contributed to the successful development and construction of the project. LIPA chief operating officer Michael D. Hervey said that the project will help New York state meet its goal of 30% renewable resources by 2015, in addition to the “creation of new, high-quality energy jobs.” See the Energy Blog post.

Town Known for First Thanksgiving is Grateful for Energy Savings

The town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is synonymous with Thanksgiving. One year after the 1620 landing of the famous Mayflower, the town was the site for the very first harvest celebration between the Pilgrim settlers from England and the local members of the Wampanoag tribe.

As “America’s Hometown,” Plymouth has embarked on a path to energy efficiency to reduce energy waste in the coming years, while also exploring opportunities to expand use of renewable energy sources.

A 2009 energy audit identified the largest uses of municipal energy, as well as where the biggest savings could be realized. To help implement energy efficiency upgrades, the town received $514,000 in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding from DOE as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

One of the most obvious projects on the town’s list was to improve the energy efficiency of Memorial Hall, a 1,300 seat civic arena built in 1921 and used for concerts, plays, town assemblies, proms, graduations, and basketball games. See the Energy Blog post.

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