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

Video VOA ‘Town Hall’ Shines Light on Ebola Crisis

Experts call for greater speed in identification and treatment of deadly disease More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Funding Program Helps Extremely Poor in Ghana

Broad objective for Ghana's social cash transfer program is to lessen the impact of poverty on the most vulnerable people, elderly, orphans, those with disabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid