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Energy savings deeply rooted at Jefferson Lab



This is an exterior view of the JLab CEBAF Center F Wing. Click here for a high resolution photograph.

NEWPORT NEWS, Oct. 15, 2007 -- When it comes to energy savings, Jefferson Lab has given a new meaning to dirt cheap.

The lab uses a geothermal well system to control heating and cooling on two floors of one wing of its main administrative building. The wing, known as the F Wing, is a three-story, 61,000-square-foot addition that was constructed in 2005.

The geothermal system uses water circulated between a heat exchanger and 168 sealed wells drilled approximately 200 feet into the earth in a field next to F wing. Air conditioning and heating is accomplished by 51 electronically controlled heat pumps located throughout the building.

On hot summer days, the pumps remove heat from the building and pump it into the wells, where it is absorbed by the soil and retained. On cold days, the process is reversed, and the heat stored in the soil is used to warm the building. A home equipped with the same process could reduce its energy bill by 70 percent a year.

The lab also conserves energy by controlling the volume of fresh air pumped into F Wing, with the volume determined by occupancy. Fewer people need less fresh air that is heated or cooled. Also, the air that is exhausted from F Wing is processed through a special device that transfers heat from the waste air stream to the fresh air stream, thus saving more energy. The system operates very effectively most of the year; however, there are very hot and humid days when this process must be augmented by mechanical cooling.

The geothermal system was proposed by an engineer working in the labís facilities unit. The engineer, drawing upon personal experience and research, proposed the geothermal system during the design phase of F Wing. It was one of four options considered, and it was selected because calculations proved it would be the most energy efficient, costing $500,000 less over its lifetime than the next lowest life-cycle cost option.

Most importantly, the system is saving the lab more than 515 million BTU of energy per year, or about $7,600 a year. Thatís the equivalent of about 23 tons of coal or roughly 3,900 gallons of heating oil.

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