Sustainable Technology Recent Findings

GSA’s Green Proving Ground (GPG) tests innovative building technologies, developing effective ways to reduce energy use, water consumption and carbon emissions.

The GPG publishes findings after implementing and testing certain technologies in GSA facilities across the country. Recent findings include those related to Linear LED Retrofits, Smart Ceiling Fans and Control Optimization Systems for Chiller Plants.

Linear LED Retrofits
Linear fluorescent lamps, specifically those used in recessed “troffers,” are the workhorses of commercial interior lighting. A troffer is a light fixture that fits into a dropped ceiling grid. According to the Department of Energy, they consume almost 70% of all U.S. commercial lighting energy. In a test case, GSA replaced linear fluorescent lamps with LEDs within three federal buildings, including the Veterans Administration Center in Philadelphia. The test case produced significant energy savings--between 27% and 29%. More detail can be found in our Linear LED Lighting Retrofits Report.  

Smart Ceiling Fans
Smart ceiling fans can automatically turn on and off at predetermined temperatures or when a space is unoccupied. They can also adjust their speed in response to temperature changes. Smart ceiling fans, which use sensors to measure temperature and adjust fan-speed, have been proposed as a way to preserve comfort as thermostat settings increase and temperatures rise. GPG worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to explore how and where smart fans might be best deployed. NREL used computer models to determine the energy-saving potential of ceiling fans, and found that raising the thermostat temperature for cooling by 4°F could reduce building energy costs by as much as 11% while preserving comfort. Please read our Smart Ceiling Fans White Paper for more information.

Control Optimization System for Chiller Plants
Chiller plants are the main source of space conditioning for commercial buildings with more than 200,000 square feet of floor space. Conventional chillers are typically designed to run most efficiently at peak loads, when, in reality, peak load conditions are rare. A new technology, a control optimization system for chiller plants, aims to improve chiller plant efficiency at part load as opposed to peak load, minimizing total power consumption. This overarching system optimizes chiller plant performance by monitoring and controlling the separate systems within a chiller plant. A recent study found a 35% energy savings and payback of five years, assuming a national average energy rate of $0.11 per kWh. Please read our Control Optimization System for Chiller Plants Report for more details.

This article is part of the Winter issue of the FOCUS newsletter. Please visit the Focus Newsletter page to read our newsletter. To subscribe to FOCUS, complete the online subscription form.

Last Reviewed 2017-01-18