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Promoting a Culture of Conservation and Energy Reduction

Reducing energy use at the Library of Congress (LOC) was critical in meeting the Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) energy reduction goal of 30 percent reduction by the end of fiscal year 2015. The Architect of the Capitol maintains the facilities for the LOC, and the AOC Library Buildings and Grounds jurisdiction (LBG) faced a challenge to help reduce energy use, while still allowing the Library of Congress to meet its mission to conserve its varied collections.

The Library of Congress stewards a vast collection of more than 158 million items, including catalogued books, manuscripts and other print materials; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings. As you can likely imagine, maintaining this invaluable and irreplaceable collection requires energy-intensive systems and buildings.

A successful energy reduction pilot program from 2012 included a variety of operational changes to existing energy systems. Armed with energy audits, utility meter data and other recommendations, the LBG energy manager teamed up with the 2nd and 3rd Maintenance, Electrical and Air Conditioning teams to develop a plan.

This energy reduction plan included cutting back on non-essential lighting, escalators, elevators, curtailing mechanical systems during unoccupied hours, while still maintaining minimum operations for safety and collection preservation. Minor heating and air conditioning equipment was replaced to improve functionality with nightly shutdowns of unnecessary systems.

The plan was presented to Library of Congress leadership to identify any potential impacts on operations and assure the LOC team that any challenges that develop during implementation would be addressed quickly and effectively.

The LBG team implemented the changes and relied heavily on new data technology tools. Thanks to new meters and utility metering system charts and graphs, the results of the initiative were immediately apparent. The program saved 7.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity. With each successful improvement, the team was able to use the results to move forward with additional energy-saving measures. Developing a feedback system between the shops and the LOC on energy efficiency and improvements allowed the team to adjust the plan based on client input and the shared results.

The Library Buildings and Grounds team became champions of the program and actively worked as ambassadors for energy reduction within the LOC buildings. Our employees produced tremendous savings in support of our goals, and impressively used data to find and show improvements without substantial project investments. Most of the savings were the results of diligent and efficient operations. This process empowered employees to continuously identify challenges and work toward effective solutions, leading the way in operational savings.

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