DOE needs to lead by example

Often mentioned as part of the Obama Administration’s economic-stimulation program is a plan to invest money to improve the energy efficiency of government buildings. Based on a recent AP story, the President needs to have a meeting with the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) management personnel. Clearly, the organization charged with implementing our energy policies has the wrong concept of what we’re trying to do with that energy. According to the story, DOE auditors reported that they waste enough electricity to power more than 9,800 homes a year by failing to turn down the heat or air conditioning when workers leave for the day. “In spite of its energy-conservation leadership role, we found that the department and its facility contractors did not place adequate emphasis on reducing energy consumption” by adjusting their after-hours thermostats, wrote inspector general Gregory Friedman.
The auditors found temperature “setback controls” lacking, broken, or unused in 35 of 55 large buildings at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee; the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state. That’s roughly two out of three buildings sampled, including some of DOE’s newest buildings in Oak Ridge.
The Oak Ridge Y-12 plant’s $154-million, privately financed, LEED certified, Jack Case Office Building and New Hope Visitors Center, wastes energy because no one bothered to buy software to make its setback system work.
The auditors, using DOE’s own energy-saving formulas, projected that enforcing temperature setbacks on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning throughout DOE’s more than 9,000 buildings could save more than $11.5 million on the energy agency’s $300-million annual electric bill.
Why is this happening? Wayne Roquemore, spokesman for owner-developer Lawler Wood LLC, Knoxville, TN, said the Oak Ridge buildings actually came with manual setback controls and Lawler Wood has purchased $2,200 in software for automatic controls in response to the audit. “But the setbacks are still not being used because the occupancy policy has not changed,” he said. “The operating policy has been to keep those buildings suitable for occupancy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
If we had that kind of energy policy in our house, my wife and I would both have to get second jobs. If this kind of waste continues, we may have to anyway, just to pay the tax bill.—Gary L. Parr

Speak Your Mind