NNSA Marks Earth Day by Highlighting Role in Climate Modeling, Commitment to Energy Efficiency

Press Release
Apr 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation commemorates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today launched a new feature on its website that highlights the role NNSA’s national laboratories play in climate modeling and NNSA’s efforts to improve energy efficiency across the nuclear security enterprise.

Originally developed as part of NNSA’s effort to maintain the safety, security and effectiveness of the nuclear stockpile without testing, NNSA assets -- including some of the world’s fastest supercomputers and most advance computational modeling capabilities -- are also being applied to the effort to find solutions to challenges like climate change.

At the same time, NNSA has employed groundbreaking energy efficiency programs at its sites, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars while reducing energy use across the enterprise. For example, NNSA’s Roof Asset Management Program (RAMP) has managed the installation of more than two million square feet of cool and white roofs at NNSA sites across the nation. RAMP, which began in 2005, has saved more than $2 million in energy costs to date and is expected to save $10 million over the next 20 years.

“At the NNSA, we are committed to ensuring that we are effective stewards of the environment, at each of our facilities and the surrounding communities,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D’Agostino. “We constantly strive to leverage our investment in nuclear security to provide the nation the tools needed to address major challenges such as global climate change. I am proud of the work done across the enterprise on innovative uses of technology and groundbreaking efforts to promote energy efficiency across the complex.”

The primary mission of NNSA’s supercomputers is to meet nuclear weapons assessment and certification requirements, including work on weapon codes, weapon science, computing platforms, and supporting infrastructure. Through close coordination with other government agencies, Advanced Simulation and Computing tools also play an important role in supporting nonproliferation efforts, emergency response and nuclear forensics.

NNSA’s three national laboratories house some of the world's fastest supercomputers, including BlueGene/L and Dawn at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Red Sky and Red Storm at Sandia National Laboratories, and Roadrunner at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In addition to the nuclear security mission, these extraordinary machines are often used to support other efforts in the national interest, such as addressing climate change.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Climate, Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling Project is using advanced Supercomputing to model changes in sea levels. Researchers at Sandia have developed a new wind turbine blade design that promises to be more efficient than current designs and should significantly reduce the cost of energy from wind turbines at low-wind-speed sites. At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, researchers are mapping the impact of climate change on agriculture.

For more information on climate modeling work done at NNSA laboratories, click here.

In addition to modeling the impact of climate change, NNSA is doing its part to preserve our environment by increasing energy efficiency at its sites. A cool roof delivers high solar reflectance and high thermal emittance which efficiently reflects the sun’s heat and emits absorbed solar radiation back into the atmosphere. As a result, the roof covering remains cooler, and less heat is transferred down through the other components of the roof system into the building. NNSA is reducing energy costs by an average of 70 percent annually on all reroofed areas as a result of the installation of cool roofs and increased insulation. The cool roof is the design standard manifest throughout RAMP’s activities.

Benefits to the environment include reduced energy consumption and reduced heat island effect in cities. Heat islands are associated with increased pollution and cooling costs, negative health effects and impact on air quality.

DOE and NNSA installed the roofs in partnership with one of its prime contractors, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies (FM&T), following the award of a multi-year contract to Building Technology Associates (BTA), a Detroit-based company.

 

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371