Jump to main content.

DOE's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

At a Glance

Environmental Attributes:
The renovation of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's (WIPP's) engineering building included:

Contract Language:
Not available online.

Key players:
WIPP energy manager and pollution prevention committee, as well as engineers, chemical and lab managers, and construction managers.

Environmental Information Sources:

WIPP included a variety of green features including recycled-content carpeting, less toxic refrigerants and other substances, and energy-efficient lighting and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.

Contact Information:
Listed at the end of the case study.

The U.S. Department of Energy's(DOE's) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, is a leader in waste management practices. This unique, rural, 60-building complex is the site of the world's first underground repository of transuranic waste—clothing,tools, rags, debris, and other items contaminated with radioactive materials during the research and production of nuclear weapons in the United States.The plant is also a leader in energy efficiency and environmental purchasing.In particular, the plant's newly renovated engineering building features a variety of innovative products.

Environmental Purchasing Process

In 1993, WIPP staff developed an affirmative procurement program to encourage environmental purchasing. Through this program, WIPP procurement officials are encouraged to buy"green" and receive training on purchasing products that are recyclable or that contain recycled materials, minimize energy use, and reduce toxicity. The plant also has a pollution prevention committee comprised of staff from several departments. The committee's primary goal is to promote awareness about waste minimization and opportunities for environmental purchasing. WIPP's energy manager collaborates with the committee as well as engineers, chemical and lab managers, and construction managers to research and identify new products that can be used at WIPP facilities.

Beginning in 1998, WIPP staff worked together to renovate the engineering building with a variety of environmental products. "Originally, we only planned to purchase recycled-content carpeting for the building, but we quickly recognized we could do much more," according to James Hedin, Energy Manager at WIPP. "With the building's occupants, furniture, and office cubicles removed from the building, we capitalized on the opportunity to add a number of energy-efficient products, as well."

To identify the new products,such as lamps, exit signs, and motors, WIPP's technical staff searched the Internet, read trade publications, attended conferences and trade shows, collaborated with federal colleagues, and spoke directly to manufacturers.WIPP staff were successful in finding environmental and energy-efficient products that met the technical requirements of the facility.

To evaluate new energy-efficientT-8 fluorescent lighting, the WIPP energy team conducted a pilot test at the building with a limited number of lighting fixtures. They assessed the ease of installation and evaluated how well the new fixtures integrated with the existing electrical system. They also asked plant employees if they noticed improved lighting output. Once the research was complete and the new products were approved, the energy manager and other technical staff wrote detailed specifications for each item.

Use of Energy-Efficient Products

The engineering building contains the following energy-efficient items:

In addition, the renovated building contains post consumer recycled-content carpeting as well as high-reflectance paint. WIPP also substituted less toxic substances in a variety of applications such as HVAC refrigerants, solvents, and hand cleaners. As an additional feature, WIPP staff are currently in the process of installing direct digital controls for the HVAC system. Through the use of occupancy sensor sand other control measures, the HVAC system will meet building loads while reducing overall energy costs.

Challenges Faced

Lessons Learned

Project Future

In the future, WIPP staff are reconsidering purchasing renewable energy sources for the plant. In particular,the energy managers are interested in using photovoltaic (PV) cells to produce heat for the hot water system. Also, the plant is interested in using PV cells for generating energy at remote locations such as control air monitors.

"The opportunities are limitless," Hedin said. "In general, we've had great success with energy efficiency and environmental purchasing and found the products to be cost-competitive. We want to continue to be a leader in this area." For more information on the plant's energy efficiency and environmental purchasing efforts, contact James Hedin at WIPP at 505 234-8411.

Top of page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.