There is a lot of waste in government, from the famous examples, the thousand dollar toilet seats to the less famous; the light bulbs at town hall are energy wasters.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 set federal energy reduction goals (it was a pretty useless law, but hey even a broken clock is correct twice a day). Government entities like the U.S. Navy, urged on by this law, are also looking for ways to reduce overall energy use and have increasingly turned to efficiency to meet this need.
Recently, they installed an ingenious system at the Dam Neck Annex in Virginia. With tight budgets and increasing need for base-wide building renovations to ensure good quality of life for those who are serving the country, Dam Neck officials looked to alternative funding, single-source accountability and the use of a custom heating and cooling system to lower its energy needs.
Dam Neck signed a $33 million base-wide Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with Trane, provider of indoor heating and cooling systems. ESPCs help the federal government create high-performance building environments by funding construction or much-needed building upgrades through energy savings. Using the money you save on energy costs to fund upgrades - a great idea.
Dam Neck will yield an estimated $2.5 million in annual energy cost savings, with an additional estimated $500,000 in operations and maintenance cost savings.
Think about that for a bit...that means that currently the government is losing almost 3 million dollars a year in waste, and this is just one Navy base.
To yield these energy savings, Trane has designed a system that uses waste water from Hampton Roads Sanitary District to cool and heat the base. Approximately 14 million gallons per day of waste water will be used for the 4,400 tons of new and replacement chillers and heat pumps included in the project. By using waste water instead of a traditional ground source heat exchange system, there is no need to drill a geothermal well field for the heat exchange process, saving on construction costs.
Because the cooling units are located indoors, they will not be exposed to the corrosive effects of the base's oceanfront location - prolonging the life of the units. "Identifying and taking every energy-saving measure possible yields more than just cost benefits," said Robert L. Johnson, director of institutional markets for Trane. "Reducing the amount of energy consumed helps stabilize the energy market while protecting precious environmental resources. The Dam Neck project is one shining example of this."
While it is not technically a renewable energy project, it does demonstrate an ingenious use of what would otherwise flow on down the drain. Construction on the new system, estimated to take 20 months, will include other energy conservation measures, including the replacement of 18,000 lighting fixtures in 23 buildings with new energy efficient models, and upgrading 5,000 plumbing fixtures in 37 buildings to help conserve water use. Facilities will also use building automation system to control the climate, lighting and energy consumption in 28 buildings, further saving energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 400 ESPC projects have been awarded by 19 different federal agencies in 46 states. In fact, $1.9 billion has been invested in U.S. federal facilities through ESPCs, saving 16 trillion British thermal units (Btu) annually, equivalent to the annual energy used by a city of about 450,000.