Report Number




Energy Conservation; Buildings; Energy Consumption


Mountains can be moved by good ideas based on good research. A wonderful example comes to us from, of all things, the Naval Facilities Command (NAVFAC), headquartered in Washington, DC. This agency of the Department of Defense is responsible for some $5 billion per year in new and retrofit construction, with naval facilities all over the globe. The federal government alone is responsible for $50 billion per year of construction, which Terry Emmons of NAVFAC claims is half of total U.S. construction. It seems that the Navy has 120,000 buildings around the world, some buildings, or groupings, are the size of cities.

NAVFAC was in the middle of a 2 year program on improving both the energy efficiency and environmental impacts of the construction projects under its jurisdiction, but it was like pulling teeth to get the A&E firms to make the needed changes. Enter Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which has been working on developing and/or identifying techniques for reducing energy use and environmental impact for decades. It seems that a high level Admiral in the Navy attended a meeting where Dr. Lovins was giving a talk on all the wonderful, cost-effective strategies that can be employed, not only to reduce energy use and environmental impact but to reduce first cost as well.

As most who have heard Lovins speak can testify, it's hard not to get excited by his message and want to implement his proposals immediately. The trouble is, most of us don't have the power of persuasion of a decorated admiral, nor the huge budgets available to work with. The admiral got Amory's message and issued an order which resulted in RMI being placed under contract an amazing 3 weeks later, to do a sustainable design charette for NAVFAC planners. Out of this came eight pilot projects around the country, to be converted immediately to RMI's principles of sustainable design and construction. The result was that everything Amory promised was realized, even lowering first costs in the process, and saving peak load and monthly energy costs in the long run.

The next step was to somehow carry the message to the 22,000 employees involved, and to get them to buy into the concepts and principles and press forward with the greening of the Navy. An extensive program of education and training was begun and the pilot program is now in full swing, with both new construction and retrofit applications in its portfolio. Preliminary results indicate that they can do exactly what Amory said, according to Emmons, an AIA member and Associate Director for Design of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Alexandria, VA.

The pilot projects have successfully lowered first costs and annual energy use, providing better illumination, better quality spaces, and achieving overall great results. A three-pronged program has begun to expand the greening process to all naval facilities. First is a series of workshops at NAVFAC field offices around the world. Second is the set of already one and a half year old pilot projects, testing the concepts proposed by RMI. The third component of the program was just started. It is called "performance based fee contracting" and it is being headed up by Charles Eley Associates of San Francisco in conjunction with the RMI Energy Foundation. With this approach, the compensation for A&E firms working on navy projects is based on how well the designs perform, both in saving energy and providing good human comfort and productivity in the process. Measurements of these features do not take place until the second year of a new building's operation and permit the design firm to even share in a portion of the achieved energy savings on an ongoing basis! Now there's a valuable incentive to learn about green design if every you've heard of one.

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Local Subjects

Buildings - Energy Conservation; Buildings - Energy Consumption


FSEC Energy Research Center® Collection



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