GSA Makes Case For Smart Lighting, Plug Strip Roll-Out

by | Sep 28, 2012

The US General Services Administration has concluded reviews of energy efficient technologies responsive lighting systems and plug load control and released details of how such technology could be rolled out to federal buildings.

A study of responsive lighting systems showed that such technology provided energy savings that ranged from around 27-to-63 percent over baseline conditions, depending on the work space’s normal use. Lighting accounts for 39 percent of electricity costs in office buildings, the GSA says.

The workstation-specific lighting systems evaluated in the study were found to be most cost effective in spaces with long operating hours and varying occupancy patterns, such call centers.

Offices with “3-tube 2×4 troffer light fixtures, operating days that are 14 hours or longer, utility costs of $0.11/kWh or greater, and an occupancy pattern that is variable, offer the best potential for energy savings at a low simple payback and therefore a “strong argument for targeted deployment,” the report says.

The plug load control study evaluated advanced power strips in eight GSA buildings in the Mid-Atlantic region. These power strips save energy by controlling plug-in devices according to a schedule or based on a given device crossing a power threshold. The strips in the study reduced plug loads at workstations by 26 percent, and nearly 50 percent in kitchens and printer rooms.

In kitchens the payback period averaged 0.7 years; in printer rooms it was 1.1 years. The GSA report says that energy savings and short payback period argue in favor of deployment of advanced plug strips with “throughout” its portfolio.

The GSA also announced future studies of 12 more energy efficient technologies, these are:

  • wireless lighting controls
  • LED luminaires
  • electrochromatic windows
  • Vacuum sealed roof insulation
  • glazing retrofit coatings
  • central plant optimization strategy
  • wireless pneumatic thermostats
  • Biomass boilers
  • solar thermal collectors
  • nonchemical prevention of hard water scale
  • wireless moisture sensing irrigation
  • wireless weather station irrigation control

In July, Siemens Government Technologies announced that it was on schedule to complete, by October, a $39 million energy-efficiency project that will allow the GSA to monitor and control dozens of buildings, in four states, from one location.

The contract covers 39 General Services Administration buildings across Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico. Over the course of the two-year project Siemens has installed solar PV, irrigation and lighting-control systems, water-conserving plumbing and energy-efficient lighting fixtures, heating and cooling system upgrades and building envelope improvements such as thermal pane windows and insulation.

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