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United States Department of TransportationUnited States Department of Transportation

Fact Sheet – FAA Cuts Energy, Water Usage at Major Northern California Facility

For Immediate Release

August 21, 2015
Contact: Ian Gregor

SACRAMENTO—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has dramatically cut energy and water consumption at a busy air traffic control facility in Northern California. Through an innovative public-private partnership, the FAA contracted with an energy service company to install more than $8 million in improvements at Northern California TRACON (NCT) with no up-front cost to the agency. The improvements include a solar farm, sustainable landscaping and energy-efficiency upgrades to the building. The improvements has reduced the facility’s energy usage by almost 50 percent and water usage by more than 50 percent. This project is the largest, single renewable energy installation at any U.S. Department of Transportation facility.

  • Following a competitive bid process, the FAA in November 2011 signed a 20-year Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) for the NCT improvements with NORESCO, a leading energy service company.
  • The contract guarantees the FAA more than $9 million in energy and water cost savings over the term of the contract.
  • Under the contract, NORESCO installed a one-megawatt solar farm on eight acres of undeveloped NCT property, as well as a parking canopy that is covered by solar panels.
  • The project also included replacing 4.6 acres of grass with rubber mulch made from 61,000 recycled tires, as well as upgrades to the facility’s heating and air conditioning systems, energy-efficient lighting, and several alternative fuel vehicle charging stations.
  • Total energy savings from reduced consumption of electricity, gas and water was 48.3 percent in 2014 compared with 2011, the year before NCT began realizing preliminary savings from the project.
    - The solar farm produced 59 percent of the facility’s electrical energy needs in 2014 – 10 percent more than the contract guarantees.
    - Modifications to NCT’s hot water system have reduced the facility’s natural gas usage by 34 percent.
    - The water-savings measures cut the facility’s annual water usage by 52 percent, or 6 million gallons. The sustainable landscaping will save an estimated $1.6 million in landscaping over the contract’s 20-year term.
  • The emissions savings from the solar power generated, combined with a reduction in natural gas consumption, cut the facility’s carbon footprint by 46 percent in 2014 compared with 2011. That is equivalent to removing more than 300 passenger cars from the road.
  • Under an Energy Service Agreement (ESA), the FAA pays NORESCO a reduced rate for the renewable energy produced and market rate for non-renewable energy.
  • NORESCO is responsible for operating and maintaining the solar power system. The FAA pays NORESCO for the ESPC upgrades using the savings that the project produces.
  • Other partners in the project were the U.S. Department of Energy and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).
    - The Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program provided the FAA with training on energy savings contracts and guided the agency through the contract process.
    - SMUD worked with the FAA to identify and develop energy-saving options and provided significant financial incentives for the project.
  • The FAA is using the expertise it gained at NCT to help other FAA facilities with energy savings projects in Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oklahoma City and Atlantic City. Additional projects are under development
  • The NCT project won the following awards: FAA-Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, 2011; DOT-Sustainability Achievement Award for Green Energy, 2012; DOT-Sustainability Achievement Award for Water Conservation, 2013.

About NCT
NCT provides approach control service to about 100 public airports, as well as additional private airports. It was the nation’s third-busiest TRACON in 2014, when its controllers handled more than 1.5 million aircraft, or an average of about 4,200 a day. NCT’s more than 21,000 square miles of airspace stretch over most of Northern California and over the Pacific Ocean, from the surface up to 19,000 feet.