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Energy Savings Initiated at ARS Facility

By Marty Clark
October 30, 2001

Capturing heat from a generating unit and reusing it to heat buildings is just one benefit from a long-term energy use reduction program beginning today at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.

Developed in response to a presidential energy-reduction directive, the project is the first for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It encompasses all 80 buildings on the NADC site. The goal of the presidential directive is to limit emissions from federal government-owned facilities and lessen American dependence on foreign oil.

Officials hope to reduce energy costs by 30 percent and save an estimated $550,000 per year for the project’s life. These savings, amounting to several million dollars, will pay the project’s total cost.

To bring the effort to this launch point, NADC has been working with several partners including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) program, Johnson Controls Inc., Alliant Energy and other firms.

Johnson Controls Inc., a Milwaukee-based company with facility management and control expertise, has audited NADC’s buildings, developed a comprehensive plan, coordinated the project’s funding and guaranteed the results. Project administration is provided through DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program.

A combustion turbine, called a cogeneration power unit, is driven by natural gas and generates 1.5 megawatts of electricity, then uses the heat from the combustion process to generate steam through a boiler system. NADC is able to produce electricity for half of the current utility rate, and the steam is essentially a free byproduct used to run sterilizers and generate hot water for heat in the winter. The cogeneration system allows NADC to reduce overall utility costs. A generator, manufactured by Caterpillar Inc., can provide power for the entire facility.

The ESPC has been dovetailed into the overall, multi-year ARS facility modernization plan for NADC, ARS’ largest animal disease center. NADC conducts research to solve animal health and food safety problems faced by livestock producers and the public. ARS is USDA’s chief scientific research agency.