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How the U.S. Federal Government Pushes Energy Efficiency--On Itself: Scientific American

Standing on the north roof of the James Forrestal building in Washington, D.C., Brian Costlow gestures to the black solar photovoltaic array lying flat against the cement tiles. The system generates 235 megawatt-hours of electricity annually in an effort to boost the energy efficiency of this office complex, the headquarters for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Toward the south, the adjoining building takes a different tack. Framed by gray concrete, the west office's 66,000-square-foot roof is painted a stark white. The coating reflects sunlight and heat, reducing the need for air conditioning, and costs just as much as conventional roof resurfacing, said Costlow, who directs the agency's Office of Administration.

Inside, the offices are separated into color zones. Workers in different regions monitor their energy usage and compete head-to-head to improve their profiles, looking for energy losses and observing plug loads. Costlow describes their routine as "finding the alligators and draining the swamp."

The zone with the largest drop in energy consumption from the previous month gets a compact fluorescent bulb in its color in a trophy case in the building's lobby. "We had prominently displayed the daily energy consumption for each zone. We try to really kind of whoop it up a little bit," said Costlow. "We're trying to make certain that each and every employee understands that we can make a difference in the amount of energy that we consume."

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:33:35 PM EST
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