Savings heat up at housing authority

November 29, 1999

RICHLAND, Wash. - The New York City Housing Authority will save time, energy and money with the help of energy efficiency programs developed by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Under a recently signed contract with the housing authority, Pacific Northwest will provide an integrated software, diagnostic monitoring and maintenance program to a central boiler plant. The plant serves about 4,500 residents of Smith Houses, a housing authority complex of 12 buildings in Manhattan. The program, called Decision Support for Operations and Maintenance, or DSOM, was developed at Pacific Northwest for the United States Marine Corps. DSOM will provide the housing authority with the technology needed to meet its energy efficiency goals.

"This system should provide tenants with more reliable heat and hot water while cutting costs for the housing authority," said Don Jarrell, Pacific Northwest principal investigator.

The contract stipulates the housing authority will recover the cost of installation within 10 years, which is estimated at $1.4 million. If not, Battelle, which operates Pacific Northwest for DOE and signed the contract, will reimburse the housing authority the difference between installation costs and actual measured savings.

"The potential savings in fuel, life of equipment and decreased need for maintenance-in all aspects of energy management-are of great interest to NYCHA," said John G. Martinez, chairman of the housing authority. DSOM could be operational by summer 2000.

DSOM has proved successful at lowering costs while increasing reliability at a heating plant at the Marine Corps' Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Installed five years ago, the system has saved more than $500,000 annually through short-term realized savings and long-term life cycle savings. Pacific Northwest also has begun installing DSOM at the Marine Corps' central heating plant at Parris Island, a boot camp in South Carolina.

Jarrell compares the housing authority's current boiler plant operations to a car running without warning gauges.

"There's no way of knowing what is malfunctioning, what needs fixed and what is causing problems," Jarrell said. "DSOM provides those gauges and immediate warnings of trouble, like a high-tech car that announces engine problems every time you turn the ignition key."

Pacific Northwest engineers will provide software and infrastructure to the boiler plant. Engineers also will train plant operators to use the system. The computer software will be connected to a network of sensors that monitor components in the plant and the computer will notify operators when a system is failing, running below expectations or near failure.
Business inquiries on this and other Pacific Northwest technologies can be directed to or 1-888-375-PNNL.

Pacific Northwest is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national labs and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy, health medicine and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has managed Pacific Northwest for DOE since 1965.

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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