Berkeley Lab Research News


Energy Efficiency: $450,000 Annual Savings Possible in Single San Francisco Building

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By Allan Chen,

October 14, 1996

BERKELEY, CA -- Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review has given a Hammer Award to a team of private and public entities that includes researchers at the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The team is working to turn San Francisco's Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate Avenue into a showcase of energy-efficient technologies that have the potential to cut billions of dollars off of the federal government's annual energy bill.

Vice President Gore's Hammer Award recognizes teams of federal, state, local employees and private citizens who have made government more efficient and effective.

A study of potential savings by the team's energy modeling specialists found that the new technology and control system could reduce the Phillip Burton Federal Office Building's energy use by 25 percent at a cost savings of $450,000 per year.

The team retrofitting the building consists of personnel from Berkeley Lab's Energy & Environment Division, the General Services Administration (GSA), Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Energy Simulation Specialists (ESS). Members of Berkeley Lab's Lighting Research Group, and the Applications Team, which focuses on designing and implementing advanced energy-efficient demonstration projects, provided expertise and engineering.

The building has 1.4 million square feet of space and is the largest federal building west of the Mississippi River. "Energy-saving technologies being demonstrated at the Philip Burton Building potentially could save up to one-third of the federal government's annual energy bill of $4 billion," says Dale Sartor, head of the Applications Team.

An advanced lighting controls testbed designed by Francis Rubinstein of Berkeley Lab includes energy-efficient lighting for three floors of the building, and a new automated control system.

"Previous research that we've done at a demonstration site in Emeryville, California has shown that using integrated automated lighting controls, it's possible to reduce lighting energy use up to 35 percent compared to a system without controls. These controls include automatically dimming lights when daylight is available, dimming or turning lights off automatically when a space is unoccupied, and compensating for lumen loss as lights age" says Rubinstein. "However, these 'first-generation' controls didn't have the intelligent features of current systems, and they were difficult to calibrate and maintain."

New lighting installed in the building includes more than 1,200 dimmable electronic ballasts, 3,600 efficient lamps, dozens of light and occupant sensors, manual and remote control dimmers, and smart control panels that respond to changes in a space's occupancy and available daylight. Nearly 200 energy meters are monitoring the energy use of the testbed down to the level of individual rooms to determine how much energy and money the new systems are actually saving. Hardware for the retrofit came from eight lighting and controls manufacturers.

"This testbed is intended to prove that the more advanced second-generation lighting controls are cost-effective and energy-saving. It will also provide a basis for designing and specifying advanced lighting control systems in federal buildings throughout the country,"says Rubinstein.

The automated control system that regulates lighting will be coupled to other energy management systems that regulate the building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) using a nonproprietary communications protocol standard called BACnet (building automation control network). The BACnet-based energy management and control system (EMCS) will make it possible for building managers to monitor and control all of the lighting, HVAC and metering systems made by different manufacturers.

Interconnecting all of the utility meters in the Federal Building will help its operators to provide the optimum level of lighting, heating, air conditioning and other energy-consuming services using the lowest-cost energy. Eventually the GSA plans to connect the federal facilities in the San Francisco Bay area using BACnet. Since the energy use of all of these buildings will appear as a single account to the utility, GSA will get lower electric rates.

Berkeley Lab staff participating in the project include Rubinstein, Judy Jennings and Doug Avery of the Energy & Environment Division's Lighting Research Group, and Dale Sartor, Steve Kromer and Rick Diamond of the Division's Applications Team. Rubinstein and Jennings designed the facility's advanced lighting controls testbed with the assistance of Avery. Kromer is helping design a building-wide strategy to monitor and verify the energy savings from all of the new technologies to be installed at the site.

The Applications Team is staffed by members of Berkeley Lab's In-House Energy Management Program, and the Energy & Environment Division, and it also draws personnel from other national laboratories and institutions to demonstrate proven and emerging building technologies in order to accelerate their adoption by consumers and building professionals.

According to the Vice President's National Performance Review, the name of the award is a reference to "yesterday's government's $600 dollar hammer...The award recognizes new standards of excellence achieved by teams helping to reinvent government." It consists of a $6 hammer and a card from the Vice President.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified research and is managed by the University of California.

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