Award-winning improvements

Jeff Haberman

In creating some of the most energy-efficient buildings at Boeing, facilities engineers at the Long Beach, Calif., site wanted to be sure employees could be directly involved in monitoring and managing their work environment.

“Anyone working in the buildings can use their computer or a touch screen monitor near the elevators to graphically see if the building temperature in their area is within the target range,” explains Jeff Haberman, facilities engineer. Since equipment is turned off outside of regular business hours to conserve energy, employees can override the system for additional lighting and air-conditioning.

Encouraging employee involvement is one of the strategies that have enabled the Long Beach Douglas Center -- the site’s main nonmanufacturing facility -- to cut its electricity use by almost 50 percent, natural gas use by 72 percent, and water use by 25 percent in the past five years.

In 2012, the Douglas Center again earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry award, making Boeing the first company to win the honor three times for a single facility. The award is given to a facility that reduces energy consumption by 10 percent within a five-year period.

Haberman says the site has been relentless in eliminating waste and improving the efficiency of its heating and air-conditioning systems. For example, the site now uses “all-variable” heating and cooling systems, which provide the optimum temperatures and system pressures for specific conditions at any given time.

“The systems used to be programmed to provide temperatures and pressures required to cool a building to match the estimated hottest days of the year. But it only hit the hottest temperature a few hours a year. The rest of the time an enormous amount of energy was being wasted,” Haberman says.

Another energy-saving step was to operate the exhaust fans in the underground parking garage only when they were needed, instead of 24 hours a day. “Sensors were installed to energize the fans only when the carbon monoxide levels exceeded a maximum point. The fans operated only a couple of times in the past few years,” Haberman says.

Heating, cooling and light levels are also adjusted in the evening to save energy. Haberman says the conservation plan exceeded the most optimistic computer model projections for the amount of energy saving opportunities. “We blew away the computer models. The actual system performance and investment payback are much better than anticipated,” he says.

Their success also is due to good teamwork, Haberman says. “We had great collaboration with Andrew Lopez, Southwest Region mechanical expert. A team can accomplish a lot more than any one individual.”

For Haberman, the most satisfying part of the site’s conservation efforts has been the feedback from employees. “People really like being in this building. They come up and say, ‘I want you to know how much we appreciate what you’re doing.’ It makes them feel good about working at Boeing. That’s pretty cool.”