Agency tunes up feds' energy use

Federal Energy Management Program

The ongoing California energy crisis and the recently released national energy plan undoubtedly have made life more interesting for many Energy Department employees. And nowhere is that more evident than at a program charged with helping other agencies to be more energy efficient.

Beth Shearer, director of DOE's Federal Energy Management Program, said that since a May 3 directive from President Bush requiring "the heads of executive departments and agencies to take appropriate actions to conserve energy use at their facilities," her office has been on "alert."

FEMP, which was created to help agencies reduce costs, increase energy efficiency, use renewable energy and conserve water, has eight "alert teams" visiting 25 of the largest federal installations in California to help them identify "low-cost and no-cost ways of cutting down demand," Shearer said.

"We've already finished some, and the feedback I've gotten has been that our teams were very professional and recommended maintenance and operating procedures that are really helping," she said.

Shearer said two simple things agencies can do to be more energy efficient are:

* Initiate an awareness campaign.

* Perform a "tune-up" on your building to locate obvious wastes of energy.

Federal buildings have seen a 10 percent decrease in electricity demand simply by putting posters up with tips on how to save energy or by keeping a tally in the lobby to show tenants how much energy is being used, Shearer said.

Federal facility managers should perform a tune-up of the building to identify and then eradicate any machines or appliances that are wasting energy. "If there's a monitor or a fan on at 2 in the morning that doesn't need to be, building tune-ups can immediately pay off," Shearer said.

Shearer said some bases were already taking such measures on their own, and in those cases, the alert teams simply move on to a facility that needs assistance. She said the Navy's facilities in the Southwest and the General Services Administration have done a particularly good job of cutting demand.

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