News Release Archive

Reclamation Facility Wins 2012 Better Building Federal Award, Reducing Building Energy Use by 53.6 Percent

Media Contact: Mary Carlson, 505-462-3576,
Lauren Meredith, 303-945-5127,

For Release: December 20, 2012

Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research FacilityThe Bureau of Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, N.M., is the winner of the Energy Department's 2012 Better Building Federal Award. The facility reduced its energy intensity by 53.6 percent from the previous year’s baseline.

"Improving energy efficiency in federal buildings can encourage cost savings and a healthy environment," said Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Conner. "Reclamation is proud to be taking steps toward reducing energy use and meeting the Department of the Interior’\'s clean energy goals."

The Better Building Federal Award recognizes high-performing federal buildings and challenges agencies to achieve the greatest reduction in "energy intensity" – or the energy consumed per gross square foot. Today, the BGNDRF has saved approximately 232 British thermal units per gross square foot. Randy Shaw, the Facility Manager at BGNDRF, stated that the facility had reduced energy consumption by 290,880 kilowatt-hours in FY 2012.

"The energy savings came in a year in which the facility was operating with a record amount of research activity," said Shaw. "We were particularly proud that we were able to accomplish this level of energy savings at a total cost of $783.90."

The BGNDRF began to focus on energy waste in the summer 2011, shortly after Electronics Technician Steven Holland was hired. He was immediately tasked with reducing energy use. After first reviewing technical manuals and facility drawings to determine what changes could be made, Holland implemented a series of modifications to focus on limiting energy consumption. Landscape lighting was rewired so 31 of 37 lights were on for shorter durations, and 24-hour and indoor night lighting were both reduced. The building's heating and ventilation and air conditioning system was repaired to improve circulation, and its control settings were changed to minimize energy use during unoccupied hours. Blinds on south facing windows were opened in the winter to take advantage of solar heat gain.

This year's competition boasted eight finalists who took significant steps toward reducing their energy intensity in 2012. Ultimately, the decision for the winner was based on considering energy efficiency measures deployed by the facility, best practices in energy management and building operations undertaken by facility personnel, and institutional change programs and other tools that were used to encourage broad sustainability efforts within the facility.

The BGNDRF opened in 2007 to enhance the study and development of advanced water treatment technologies using brackish water sources. The central research building consists of 15,200 square feet located on 40 acres of land.

Under President Barack Obama, all federal agencies are directed to lead by example in clean energy and to meet a range of energy, water, pollution and waste reduction techniques. The Department of the Interior offers ongoing encouragement to improve energy efficiency in all of its bureaus and identify ways to reduce pollution, improve efficiency and cut costs.

Since 2003, Interior has improved its energy consumption rate by 22.8 percent.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.