Johnson Controls To Harness Renewable Energy At Laboratory

Innovative project to generate $8 million annual savings, decrease dependency on fossil fuels.
Innovative project to generate $8 million annual savings, decrease dependency on fossil fuels.

Johnson Controls To Harness Renewable Energy At Laboratory

Johnson Controls To Harness Renewable Energy At Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN, has signed an $89 million energy savings performance contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. to apply advanced energy conservation solutions, including a biomass gasification system, to the campus.

This project is the first signed initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Transformational Energy Action Management (TEAM) Initiative, which is an action plan to dramatically transform the DOE’s energy, environmental, and transportation management. TEAM aims to meet or exceed the aggressive energy efficiency goals set forth by the federal government, fundamentally transforming the way the DOE manages energy use in its facilities.

“By working with Johnson Controls, Oak Ridge National Laboratory will achieve its long term energy reduction goals far earlier than expected while saving millions of taxpayer dollars,” said ORNL director Thom Mason. “We are dedicated to alternative energy sources. Being able to tap renewable energy for our facility is a great way to see our purpose realized.”

As the project’s cornerstone, a wood gasification biomass system will take the place of the existing natural gas steam plant and steam distribution system. By using woody biomass from the region as the main energy source for the facilities, ORNL will reduce fossil fuel consumption by 80%. Furthermore, the biomass plant significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to planting 32 million trees.

Overall, ORNL will benefit from an innovative suite of energy efficiency solutions including the installation of a “super boiler,” advanced electric metering, energy efficient lighting, water conservation measures, compressed air cooling, comprehensive HVAC improvements, and a building management system to ensure the mission critical standards are maintained.

By eliminating more than 1.5 miles of steam piping and using enhanced technology, the “super boiler” will be up to 94% efficient. This is a significant improvement when compared to traditional boilers which operate from 50%-60% efficiently. The water conservation measures will also reduce water usage by more than 115 million gallons annually, resulting in a long term reduction of 16%. As a whole, the entire project will reduce energy intensity in the labs and office buildings by 30%, meeting ORNL’s long term energy reduction goal and significantly contributing to the goals of the TEAM initiative.

“One year ago, Secretary Bodman challenged the entire U.S. Department of Energy to meet or exceed the President’s goals for increasing energy efficiency, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing the use of renewable energy in the Federal government,” DOE deputy assistant secretary David Rodgers said. “I’m proud to announce DOE is delivering with alternative financing methods that reduce the need for federal spending.”

It is estimated that the biomass gasification system, “super boiler”, and energy efficiency improvements will generate $8 million annually in energy and operational savings. As a result, ORNL expects to save more than $144 million over the 18 year term of the contract.

“This project is a great example of what can happen when strong leadership combines with innovative solutions,” said Iain Campbell, vice president/general manager, North America service and global workplace solutions at Johnson Controls. “Together, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Johnson Controls have developed a long term plan for success.”

Hundreds of projects across North America, including the ORNL project, are financed through a performance guarantee with Johnson Controls. Performance guarantees are a feature of performance based contracting, which allows a customer to make system improvements that are self funding via cost savings. Under such a contract, the cost of facility and infrastructure upgrades is paid for over a specified number of years by the energy, water, and operational cost savings the project generates. Johnson Controls guarantees all or a portion of these savings under the terms of the contract, which range in length from three to 25 years, depending on the customer’s preference.

No definitive date has been set for breaking ground on the project; however, completion is scheduled for sometime 2011.

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