News / Science & Technology

New Lab to Test Energy-Saving Technologies

New Lab to Test Energy-Saving Technologiesi
X
George Putic
July 11, 2014 8:56 PM
Most of the electrical energy in the U.S. is consumed by buildings and the building sector has the fastest growing rate, but up to now the country did not have a facility for comprehensive testing of new technologies that aim to make buildings more energy efficient. That has changed with Thursday’s opening of a cutting edge laboratory, in California, for evaluating the efficiency of new building methods and materials. VOA’s George Putic has more.
George Putic

Most of the electrical energy in the U.S. is consumed by buildings and the building sector has the fastest growing rate, but up to now the country did not have a facility for comprehensive testing of new technologies that aim to make buildings more energy efficient. That has changed with Thursday’s opening of a cutting edge laboratory, in California, for evaluating the efficiency of new building methods and materials.

In many buildings, windows and walls are poorly insulated, air conditioning and heating systems are inefficient and lighting is inadequate. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 36 percent of the nation's total energy use and create 30 percent of its greenhouse gasses.

Technologies for lowering those numbers exist, but their effectiveness is hard to measure because the process requires real-life conditions.

In addition to testing each element individually, it's important to assess how well they work together, says the executive manager of the Department of Energy’s new Flexlab, Cindy Regnier.

She spoke via Skype.

“We're looking at integrated systems, so instead of looking at just components, like air conditioning units, we're looking at the integration, of lighting systems with windows and shading, as an example," said Regnier.

Flexlab has four test beds where scientists can compare the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of different methods. One of the test beds can be rotated 270 degrees to study technologies under different solar orientations.

Cameras aimed at windows and walls are helping scientists evaluate the energy efficiency of new materials.

Regnier says the work done at Flexlab can save billions of dollars.

“Good integrated design in buildings can achieve as much as 50% energy savings over regular energy use. That's true of the existing buildings as well as new construction," she said.

Flexlab will work with all groups interested in improving energy efficiency - from architects and builders, designers and manufacturers of new materials, to building owners and research sponsors.

Another important factor will be occupant comfort and acceptance, so certain tests will involve people spending time in the facility.

“One of the tests that we currently have going on with Webcor and Genentech will have occupants come into the space and work in the space for a couple of weeks so that they can test the technologies and understand how they perform. It's really important for the kind of work that we do," said Regnier.

Regnier says the tests conducted at Flexlab will provide a preview of a building's energy use, before it's built - saving time, money... and energy.

 

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid