The Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center recently received the White House’s 2013 GreenGov Presidential Award and the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Federal Energy and Water Management Award for its net zero energy facility project in San Dimas, Calif. A facility earns a net zero energy designation if it produces more renewable energy than it uses per year. This is the first facility of its kind in the Department of Agriculture.
The Department of Energy also recognized the Center for the same facility project and the Forest Service’s Northern Region for executing a $2.6 million Energy Savings Performance Contract in Fiscal Year 2012.
“We are honored to receive the GreenGov Award, and the Federal Energy and Water Management awards for the Technology and Development Center as the first net zero green facility exemplifying leadership in energy conservation,” said Emilee Blount, the Forest Service’s national director of Engineering, Technology and Geospatial Services.
The GreenGov awards are distributed annually to honor personnel and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste and save taxpayer money in federal agency operations, according to the White House. This is the fourth year for the awards.
The Technology and Development Center made several changes to its facility, including replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the administration building and installing 1,288 solar panels on 1.5 acres to produce up to 600,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year. The center produces enough energy to provide monetary credits with local utility company Southern California Edison (SCE), saving the Forest Service $100,000 annually and paying for itself within 10 years.
The Center’s net zero energy status was accomplished by first installing numerous energy-saving measures to the 48-year-old facility. The facility installed a 302-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system that converts sunshine into electricity and is connected to SCE‘s electrical grid. The system generates more than double the facility’s energy needs, and SCE applies a credit to both the Center and the Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office for excess energy the system generates.
The Northern Region negotiated a 13-year, $2.6 million energy savings contract in FY 2012, exceptionally known for its complexity, breadth and logistical challenges. The Region has more than 4,000 buildings covering 25 million acres in Montana, Northern Idaho and South and North Dakota. Prior to this contract, energy conservation projects were small, localized efforts that applied one or two energy conservation measures to a particular site. The new contract addresses 500 facilities at 62 sites served by 19 different utility providers, installing programmable thermostats, heat pumps, greenhouse furnaces, lighting, vacancy sensors, attic and foundation insulation, infiltration reduction measures and a 4.9-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. In total, the projects are expected to save about $250,000 in utility costs per year. This contract has already been used as a template for proposed projects for two other Forest Service regions.