Waltham NARA Building Gets Energy Savings Facelift
August 26, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the GSA workforce is conducting the agency mission from home. However, GSA has been taking advantage of the decreased personnel levels in certain buildings to accomplish work that otherwise may not have been possible. One such project is upgrading the lighting at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Waltham, MA to light-emiting diodes or better known as LED's. If you’re not familiar with the Waltham NARA building, imagine a huge warehouse with literally thousands of lights. This project would normally have cost approximately $290,000 but a utility rebate program was utilized that resulted in the entire project being installed at no cost to the government.
LED bulbs are just as bright as fluorescent bulbs while using a fraction of the energy. LED's also last longer and emit less heat, resulting in savings on maintenance as well as cooling costs. Unlike prior re-lamping projects where the bulbs were simply swapped out, this project also removed the fixture ballasts to eke out additional energy savings and eliminate future maintenance headaches. The upgrade consisted of both interior and exterior locations inlcuding modules, offices, public spaces, and the parking lot.
R1 PBS employees Jeff Schetrompf and Atif Khan lead the endeavour with assistance from others in Design & Construction and Facilities Management & Services Program branch. As with many projects, the R1 team encountered a few surprises. One such surprise was dealing with a localized electromagnetic interference. Project Manager Jeff Schetrompf described the hurdle saying, "This challenge would bore most people but some of us live for this. This element required some creative problem solving from an engineering perspective but was ultimately resolved so the project could move forward. This is the type of challenge that GSA encounters. Luckily we have subject matter experts in the right places in order to deal with these issues creatively and efficiently." In performing this project, GSA was responsible for opening and closing the facility when NARA personnel were not on-site.
Additionally, the team assisted in developing lighting standards to ensure that the lighting levels would not degrade the historical documents that are stored at the site. Furthermore, by spending entire days at the site, they gained a better understanding of just how the facility operates and came away with a series of recommendations for low cost modifications that will further reduce energy use and save tax payer dollars.
Energy savings under this project are estimated at 67,788 kWH. That’s equivalent to six households annual energy usage or saving 91 trees...just by changing over to LED's.