Navy Yard Visitor's Center Completes Net Zero Project

Story Number: NNS120913-19Release Date: 9/13/2012 3:44:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller, Naval District Washington Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Naval Support Activity (NSA) Washington recently completed its energy conservation Net Zero demonstration project at the Washington Navy Yard Visitor's Center and will be on public display, Oct. 1.

Net Zero refers to zero energy use on a net annual basis.

"This basically means the project produces as much or more energy in a year than it consumes," said Steven Miller, design project manager and architect with Public Works Department Washington. "This can apply to electrical consumption as well as water and gas consumption, although our project is focused on electrical energy and does not consume any gas."

A few of the notable changes that will allow the Visitor's Center to become Net Zero include: spray-foam and blown-in cellulose insulation, electrochromic windows, LED lighting, and a new geothermal heat-pump HVAC system. There are also Solar Panels and Micro-Wind turbines on the adjacent parking structure that tie into a cutting edge hybrid-gel battery system which can power the building in the event of a power failure.

"The project evolved from the initial concept to best suit the discoveries made during the initial building energy audit," said Miller. "It was determined at this time that a replacement of the building's HVAC system with a super-efficient geothermal heat-pump system would yield the greatest energy savings. The approved design was based around this change and has remained constant throughout implementation."

NSA Washington has garnered significant success since the Net Zero project was employed last October. According to Miller, each new technology and energy conservation method that was installed has exceeded energy reduction estimates.

"The technologies were chosen for various reasons, some performance based and some economic based," he said. "Our biggest 'bang for our buck' is coming from the geothermal system where we've seen a 70 % reduction in our energy consumption and, more importantly, a huge increase in occupant comfort."

Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Honorable Ray Mabus announced in 2010 during Energy Awareness Month five energy goals for the Department of the Navy (DoN). One of those goals was to make half of all Navy installations net-zero energy consumers, using solar, wind, ocean, and geothermal power generated on base. With the Navy's newest Net Zero building at the WNY, the Navy is one step closer to achieving this goal.

In August, four installations within the region were recognized for reaching Blue Level Achievement under the SECNAV Energy and Water Management Award. The annual award evaluates Navy commands of their overall energy and water management performance, and then they are ranked according to a system of SECNAV award winners, then platinum, gold or blue level of achievement. Each installation will receive a certificate of achievement and will be listed among others in the awards ceremony program.

"Blue, Gold, and Platinum Level Achievement recognizes commands who execute comprehensive energy efficiency programs. When striving for Net Zero, energy efficiency comes first," said Miller. "Our project demonstrates innovative, cutting edge ways to reduce energy consumption which can be applied to larger buildings."

According to Capt. Branch, regional engineer for Naval District Washington, "NDW now intends to track all the actual operations and sustainment costs and compare them to other 'control facilities' of similar size and usage. We not only need to know the capital costs vs. economic return; we need to know the level of sustainment needed to keep it working."

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