Federal Eye: Energy Dept. Facilities Wasting Energy

You’d think the Energy Department would be good about saving on energy consumption, but a new internal audit suggests it has wasted millions of dollars on unnecessary energy costs that could have been avoided if temperature controls in certain facilities functioned properly.

The department spent approximately $300 million to cool and heat its 9,000 facilities nationwide in 2008, but could have saved at least $11.5 million each year if it fixed equipment that reduces the use of heating or air conditioning during non-work hours, according to a departmental inspector general report released earlier this week.

The report noted that the department is “designated to lead the country to energy efficiency and it has both an opportunity and responsibility to provide direction for smart, efficient energy management,” but has “not always taken all necessary steps to advance the department’s energy leadership role.”

Auditors visited four of the department’s major campuses that contain several buildings each: Washington headquarters; the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.

The Washington headquarters regularly uses temperature control equipment in most offices and common areas. In other buildings at other facilities, however, temperature setback controls had either never been used or were broken. Investigators also found the department does not always require the use of temperature equipment in building lease agreements, a potentially expensive mistake as it continues to use more leased space.

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