EPA’s Conserve Energy Reduction Program
Situation Before: In FY 2004, a very large, newly-constructed research laboratory entered EPA’s real estate portfolio. Its energy usage far exceeded the estimates developed during design. EPA’s energy use, which had been trending downward, began moving up significantly, dramatically increasing the Agency’s energy costs and forcing curtailment of other services. In addition, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) tightened energy conservation requirements for all federal agencies. These two events led EPA to develop a new metrics driven energy conservation program at its facilities, designed to reduce energy consumption nationwide and capture those energy cost savings for the Agency and the taxpayers.
Actions Taken: In December of 2005, EPA implemented an innovative program called “ConservE.” The ConservE program set energy reduction goals for each of EPA’s reporting facilities and developed an actionable tracking system for energy reductions. EPA deployed new tools to help facilities reduce energy use: advanced metering, increased emphasis on building operations and maintenance, better building control systems, and audits to identify energy savings opportunities.
Results: EPA’s investment of $950K for ConservE projects in FY06 reduced EPA’s overall energy use 5.0% vs. FY05 and saved over 60 BBtus1 of energy. EPA avoided $1.1 million in annual utility costs (FY06 cost basis) as a result of this effort, a simple payback of less than 1 year.
EPA began receiving information from a new web-based advanced metering system for its New Main laboratory and the National Computer Center in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina in December 2005. These two facilities use approximately 40% of EPA’s energy. In the fall of 2006, the system proved critical in identifying major coordination problems between the Central Utility Plant and the New Main laboratory, which, if unnoticed, could have increased energy use approximately 2% or approximately $ 168,000 in a single year.
Proactive facility management and improved operations and maintenance at the Ann Arbor, Michigan laboratory cut energy use 17.8 BBtus or 24%; the RTP, NC New Main laboratory cut energy use 3%; the RTP, NC Human Studies cut energy use 12%; the Chelmsford, Massachusetts regional laboratory cut energy use 18%; the Duluth, Minnesota laboratory cut energy use 12%.
EPA also continued to upgrade the “Building Automation System” (BAS) at the New Main laboratory at RTP, NC. The BAS runs the complex mechanical systems (air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems) at New Main. The original controls system was inadequate and overburdened with data – causing data loss and slow mechanical equipment response times. The backbone of the BAS’s data transmission system was improved and made more robust, eliminating data loss and increasing equipment response times and energy efficiency.
EPA also completed energy audits at 5 of our largest labs focused on operations and preventative maintenance, which should provide additional energy savings as recommendations are implemented.
1 billion British thermal units = BBtus