It looks a lot like many other suburban homes. It’s even located in a popular suburban area – Gaithersburg, Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C. But it’s really a Recovery-funded laboratory, built specifically to allow researchers to test various high-efficiency and alternative energy systems, materials, and designs that would produce all the energy a residential home would need every day.
Officially called the Net-Zero Residential Test Facility, the recently completed lab will be home to researchers from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Over the course of a year the researchers, simulating a family of four, will test and demonstrate whether a net-zero energy home can fit in just about any neighborhood.
Approximately $2.5 million of Recovery funds paid for construction of the lab, which includes three types of geothermal systems so they can be evaluated in the same climate and soil types, and multiple ducting systems. Elaborate safety systems are also included, as they would be in any other lab.
The goal is to identify existing and new energy technologies that work best and most affordably in a home-environment.
The first hybrid electric street sweepers in the nation are hitting the streets of Manhattan thanks to $690,000 of Recovery funding. Initiating a pilot program, a total of five of the new vehicles were delivered to the New York City Department of Sanitation this past fall.
Officials are expecting significant energy and environmental benefits:
- Standard sweeper burns 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel annually; hybrid uses about 5,000
- Fuel savings will total about $33,750 annually
- Carbon dioxide emissions will drop by 100 metric tons every year
City officials say that lessons learned from the pilot will help inform future street sweeper purchases and serve as a model for other jurisdictions around the country.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is using $5.5 billion in Recovery funds to convert federal buildings across the nation to high-performance green buildings, and to build new energy-efficient federal buildings, courthouses and land ports of entry.
Take a look at GSA’s interactive map to see details about investments in federal buildings across the country.