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Testing the Newest Green Technologies

May 28, 2013 | 0 comments

 The U.S. General Services Administration has turned its building portfolio into a test bed for evaluating new green technologies.

 The GSA’s Green Proving Ground program works with the Department of Energy’s national laboratories to assess and evaluate a variety of sustainability products and innovations within GSA buildings, such as:

  • Building envelope (vacuum-sealed roof insulation, electrochromic windows, etc.)
  • HVAC (wireless pneumatic thermostats, central plant optimization, plug load controls, etc.)
  • Lighting (wireless controls, LEDs, occupant-responsive lighting, etc.)
  • Onsite power generation (honeycomb solar thermal collectors, biomass boilers, etc.)
  • Water-saving technologies (wireless moisture-sensing irrigation, hard-water scale prevention, etc.)

To start, a team analyzes how easy the technology is to install or deploy. Then, everything from energy/water savings to ROI is measured so the data can be compared to claims made by the manufacturer. The GSA also tracks positive or negative effect on occupant satisfaction, as well as how easy the systems are to maintain and operate.

As the Green Proving Ground program releases the results of these assessments, take note about what’s working for government facilities:

  • Deploying advanced power strips resulted in an average energy savings of 48% as part of a Plug Load Control Study in eight GSA buildings in the mid-Atlantic region. The biggest savings came from timer controls on printers and copiers, and schedule-based controls for workstations and in kitchens.
  • To evaluate occupant-responsive lighting systems, the GSA retrofitted five buildings in California and compared the data to systems in place prior to the retrofit. This upgrade provided anywhere from 20% to 63% savings in energy after the retrofits were complete. The largest savings figure was achieved at the Royal Federal Building in Los Angeles.
  • Assessing photovoltaics (PV), the GSA installed five PV systems at the Bean Federal Center in Indiana. The commercial-scale PV system was deemed appropriate even for a four-season climate. The PV system offset 7.9% of the Bean Federal Center’s energy load during the study period.

If these technologies are working for government facilities, are you more likely to try them? Are you doing anything similar with your building portfolio?


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