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Vol. LVIII, No. 23
November 17, 2006
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Two Degrees of Separation: Energy Conservation at NIH

Does your home electric bill shock you? What if you had to pay the NIH campus electric bill? Being billed $3 million to $5 million each month, NIH is the largest single consumer of energy in Montgomery County. With utility costs projected to increase at a steady rate, we must conserve energy. This means that each of us will need to change our habits. As a response to rising energy consumption and costs, NIH is implementing select building changes on campus.

Maintenance staff will be setting temperatures in buildings at 74 degrees F in the summer and 70 degrees F in the winter. At night, thermostats will be set to 60 degrees F in winter and 78 degrees F in the summer. These changes amount to a difference of 2 degrees in both summer and winter. The changes will be made over the next month for the following buildings: 2, 10-ACRF, 10-CRC, 15K, 33, 35, 37, 40, 50, 51, 64 and 65. These buildings have automated control systems. Additional buildings will undergo the same change as funding for more automated control systems is made available.

Since people are comfortable between 70 -74 degrees F, most people will not even notice the change. In some cases, you may simply need to select clothing that is comfortable, including a sweater during the winter and lighter clothing in the summer. The temperature changes will not affect sensitive-use areas such as patient or animal care facilities, which will continue to operate at their standard temperatures.

Signs will be posted in each building a week before the temperature change date. As the changes are phased in, building engineers will monitor affected areas to ensure all areas meet the new settings. Temperatures outside the standard may be reported to maintenance staff at (301) 435-8000 and to your facility manager. Standardizing the building temperatures should reduce temperature fluctuations, but note that personal heating and cooling equipment such as electric space heaters are not permitted because they pose a safety hazard and obstruct the energy conservation efforts.

Although 2 degrees F is a small change, the cumulative impact will be substantial. The Department of Energy estimates that for every degree a thermostat is set back, energy consumption is reduced by an average of 3 percent. This is true in your own home as well. Changing building temperatures by 2 degrees F should reduce NIH’s energy costs up to $1.95 million per year. Additional savings will be seen as other buildings join the program.

The temperature-change program arose as part of NIH’s Environmental Management System. NEMS is integrating environmental considerations into day-to-day decisions made across campus and challenging employees to identify and implement new procedures for conducting activities in ways that reduce environmental impact. For more information on NEMS, contact Terry Leland at (301) 496-7775 or lelandt@mail. nih.gov. For information on energy saving programs at NIH, contact Kenny Floyd at (301) 496-7775 or floydw@ors.od.nih.gov. NIH Record Icon

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