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New NREL Research Facility Slashes Energy Use by 66 Percent

For more information contact:
Linda Brown, 275-4097

Golden, Colo., October 3, 1996 -- Americans can look forward to lower utility bills and more comfortable buildings thanks to a new research facility dedicated today at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Christine Ervin, DOE's assistant secretary for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and U.S. Congressman Dan Schaefer (R.-Colo.) helped dedicate the 10,000-square-foot Thermal Test Facility, which serves as a showcase of energy-saving features and the home of NREL's cutting-edge buildings research.

"Americans currently spend more than $195 billion every year to heat, cool and light their homes and offices," Ervin said. "A 30 percent improvement in building energy efficiency would save consumers almost $40 billion in energy costs over the next 15 years. The technologies now being developed at the Thermal Test Facility will help us reach this goal."

The facility incorporates cost-effective features predicted to reduce building energy use by 66 percent. These features include:

In addition to demonstrating the comfort and affordability of energy-efficient building design, NREL's Thermal Test Facility houses sophisticated equipment for studying important issues such as indoor air quality; proper air circulation; and the effectiveness of various heating, ventilating and cooling strategies.

"We've done a lot of research on individual building components," said Ron Judkoff, director of NREL's Center for Buildings and Thermal Systems. "The Thermal Test Facility will help us determine how the various elements of building design can be integrated for maximum comfort and productivity in our homes and offices."

As part of the dedication ceremony, Assistant Secretary Ervin presented an energy efficiency design award to representatives of McDonald's Corp. The company is building four energy-efficient restaurants in Colorado, Illinois, Georgia and California. DOE and NREL participated in planning these restaurants, which will serve as models for future building design.

Congressman Dan Schaefer, chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, applauded the foresight of buildings research in developing new energy strategies for the nation. Schaefer recently led a bipartisan effort that successfully restored about $45 million to the federal budget for renewable energy research.

"We have to concern ourselves with the future of the nation," Schaefer said. "Energy is not a Democratic issue. It is not a Republican issue. It is an issue for all Americans."