Recovery Blog

New Lab for Testing Possibilities of Net-Zero Energy Homes

Posted in Recovery Projects/Awards by Recovery.gov on September 24, 2012

Net-Zero Residence

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.

Photo of the Week – Cleanup of SRS K Cooling Tower

Posted in Photo of the Week by Recovery.gov on March 7, 2012
Rubble of K Cooling Tower

Photo contributed to the Recovery.gov Flickr group by Savannah River Site

SRS Recovery Act Update: SRS Recovery Act workers use heavy equipment to remove the rubble of K Cooling Tower while sorting more than 800 tons of reinforced steel for recycling.

One of the most visual milestones of cleanup projects underway within the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management was the demolition of the K-Reactor Cooling Tower at the Savannah River Site (SRS).

Now, this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project has been completed one month ahead of schedule, with debris from the implosion safely hauled away and deposited in an on-site landfill. With project completion, a great safety achievement was realized.

To complete the project, more than 800 tons of reinforced steel from the structure were sent to a local scrap metal recycler. This recycling effort also helped to stimulate the local economy beyond the SRS Recovery Act Project.

To see more photos of Recovery projects or add your own photos, visit the Recovery.gov Flickr Group.

Nine Million Smart Meters Installed Nationwide

Posted in Recovery Projects/Awards by Recovery.gov on January 11, 2012
Worker Installing Smart Meter

Worker for NV Energy installing a smart meter - Photo courtesy of NV Energy

As part of the Department of Energy’s Recovery-funded efforts to accelerate the modernization of the country’s electric grid, approximately 9 million smart meters have already been installed in homes and businesses nationwide. Ultimately, DOE’s goal is to have 15.5 million installed.

Smart meters are available at no charge to home or business owners through participating utility companies except in states where a small Public Utility Commission-mandated fee applies. Contact your electricity provider for details.

Smart meters give consumers access to near real-time information about their energy consumption, allowing them to make better-informed decisions about their use of electricity.  The meters also provide utility companies with greater information about how much electricity is being used.  Smart meters are just one among many advanced technologies used by utilities to sense, monitor, control and automate the distribution of electricity, collect and exchange usage information with customers, manage power loads more efficiently and reduce cost.

While smart meters have been deployed in every state, nearly 90 percent of those installed to date are in Florida, Texas, California, Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Nevada.

For more information about DOE’s smart grid activities visit the Smart Grid Website.

Photo of the Week – SRS P Reactor Sealing

Posted in Photo of the Week by Recovery.gov on October 12, 2011
SRS P Reactor Sealing

Photo Contributed to the Recovery.gov Flickr Group by Savannah River Site

Marc Sharpe, who was a senior reactor operator at P Reactor in the mid-1980s, carries a time capsule containing items that reveal Site and national current events into P Reactor. Dr. David Moody, U.S. Department of Energy-Savannah River Operation Office Manager, is walking behind him.

With investments from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Department of Energy and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC, (SRNS) sealed the access to the historic P and R Reactors as part of footprint reduction and legacy cleanup at the Savannah River Site.

At P Reactor today, Dr. David Moody, DOE’s Savannah River Operations Office Manager and Marc Sharpe, a reactor operator at P Reactor in the 1980s, were the last people to exit the P Reactor before its final opening was welded shut.

“The Recovery Act enabled us to accomplish a remarkable feat,” Dr. Moody said. “In just two years we successfully and safely delivered a fitting end to these relics that led our nation to a Cold War victory. For that we are proud.”

“P and R Reactors have been instrumental to SRS’s history for nearly 60 years. The Recovery Act provided the means to showcase proven and emerging technologies and to use the talents of our dedicated workforce,” said Garry Flowers, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions president and chief executive officer. “Sealing access to P and R Reactors is perhaps the most visible milestone reached as work continues to complete closure of the P and R Area Operable Units, rendering the availability of both areas for future new missions.”

Inside the P Reactor’s opening, Dr. Moody and Mr. Sharpe placed a time capsule, about the size of a 5-gallon paint bucket, containing items that depict both the history of SRS, as well as items that show current events in the region and the nation.

In addition to the Record of Decision (ROD) issued by DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency (Region IV), and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control which initiated the reactor decommissioning project, other materials included a copy of People Magazine on the Royal Wedding and other news items.

During his 30-year career at SRS, Marc Sharpe, was a reactor operator at P Reactor. He sat in the “pot,” a term reactor operators used to describe the control room. In the late 80s, Mr. Sharpe helped with its shut down. And this morning, he walked away from the reactor he helped deactivate and decommission.

Recovery Act funds were used to deactivate and perform in situ, or in place, decommissioning of these two reactors. The underground areas and vessels of both reactors were grouted in place to 0-foot elevation with an estimated 260,000 cubic yards of concrete grout. The two structures are expected to stay in their present state for 1,400 years.

Notable projects that contributed to the closure of the P & R areas include: deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) of P and R Reactors; soil and groundwater remediation, building and operation of the Batch Plant Facility to produce the special concrete used in reactor grouting; and the remediation of P and R Area Ash basins, which received coal-fired power plant ash and waste during the operation of the reactors.

P Reactor boasted a record of never having a lost-time injury from the time it reached criticality in 1954 until it was shut down in 1988. R Reactor was the first fully functioning reactor at the Site. It became operational in 1953 and was shut down in 1964 when it was no longer needed for the nation’s defense.

To see more photos of Recovery projects or add your own photos, visit the Recovery.gov Flickr Group.

ARRA Funds Energy Efficiency Upgrades for West Virginia Courthouse

Posted in Agency News, Recovery Projects/Awards by Recovery.gov on September 7, 2011

GSA LogoUsing Recovery funds, the General Services Administration (GSA) recently completed upgrades to improve energy efficiency at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia. The renovations included the installation of a new roof and 315 photovoltaic solar panels, upgrades to the parking garage, and adjustments to the heating, ventilation and cooling systems. Learn more about this project and read the full story by visiting the GSA website.

Photo of the Week – San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

Posted in Photo of the Week by Recovery.gov on August 31, 2011
San Luis Wildlife Refuge, Los Banos, CA

Photo Contributed to the Recovery.gov Flickr Group by PremierSIPs

Funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the new environmentally friendly San Luis Wildlife Center will receive a new administrative headquarters and visitor center.

This will be on among the greenest and largest Fish & Wildlife service projects funded by ARRA and will seek LEED Platinum.

Architect: Catalyst Architecture
GC: West Coast Builders

To see more photos of Recovery projects or add your own photos, visit the Recovery.gov Flickr Group.

Department of Energy Completes Five ARRA Projects

Posted in Agency News, Recovery Projects/Awards by Recovery.gov on August 24, 2011

Department of Energy LogoThe Department of Energy’s Environmental Management program recently completed five ARRA-funded projects at the Oak Ridge site.

The projects included: expansion of 2 landfills at the Oak Ridge Reservation, a 385,000 cubic yard expansion of the Sanitary Landfill (a designated area for non-hazardous waste), and the addition of another disposal cell with a capacity of 465,000 cubic yards.  The expansion allows for the local disposal of waste generated by environmental cleanup initiatives, eliminating costly shipping expenses.

Pre-demolition and demolition projects at the East Tennessee Technology Park and the Y-12 National Security complex were also recently completed.

Read more about the completion of these Recovery Act projects on the Department of Energy’s website.

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