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Sandia's photovoltaic vehicle receives Green Gov Presidential Award

Sandia’s photovoltaic vehicle receives GreenGov Presidential Award

By Stephanie Hobby

Sandia has received White House recognition as one of eight recipients of the 2010 GreenGov Presidential Awards. The awards honor federal agencies and employees who work to reduce greenhouse gas pollution; meet a number of energy, water, and waste reduction targets; and leverage federal purchasing power to promote environmentally responsible products and techniques.

A SUNNY RIDE — Israel Martinez, left, Erika Barraza, and Matthew Brito (all 4821) were key members of a Sandia team that developed a photovoltaic-powered cart that won a 2010 Presidential GreenGov award. The cart is based on a modified GEM cart, familiar around Sandia’s Tech Area 1. Members of the PV cart team were honored at a White House ceremony on Oct. 7. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

More than 300 nominations were submitted for the eight awards; Sandia earned the Green Innovation Award for developing and implementing photovoltaic (PV) powered carts at a ceremony on Oct. 7.

 “It is a primary mission of Sandia Labs to seek out alternative energy sources, and I am thrilled that this great team is being honored with the 2010 GreenGov Presidential Award for Innovation for its outstanding work,” says Div 4000 VP Michael Hazen, who heads up infrastructure operations at Sandia. “It is an honor and a privilege to accompany key members of the team and family members to the White House for this ceremony as they are recognized for leading by example by demonstrating environmental and energy excellence, and we look forward to discovering new ways to save energy and reduce costs.”

Sandia’s Facilities Energy Management team and Fleet Services organization designed the experimental, solar-powered carts in 2009 with the goals of creating a more energy-efficient campus, reducing grid-tied energy use, increasing renewable-energy use, and implementing solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while determining whether a PV-driven concept could be developed that did not have a lifelong payback period. The program was completed within two months of funding and has been in operation for more than a year.

The modified Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) carts take advantage of the region’s abundant sunlight by collecting solar energy in rooftop panels to charge the batteries, but can bypass the PV system to be plugged in on cloudy days when needed. Batteries are equipped with an automatic shutoff to prevent overcharging, thereby extending their lifespan.

Traditional electric charging stations cost about  $10,000 to install and require substantial site modifications and construction. PV-powered GEM carts would reduce the number of needed charging stations, resulting in fewer repairs and decreased maintenance costs. Converting to solar-powered carts also translates to significant environmental savings. Because no power is purchased for the PV-powered cart, no coal is burned and no carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Sandia’s carts use an off-the-shelf PV mounting kit, and modifications can be made in about 30 days. The GEM cart pilot project has received so much positive feedback that Sandia Fleet Services is working to expand the program and to improve the original design concept on a different platform with five new Club Car Low-Speed Vehicles (LSVs) carts at a reduced cost.

Project team members include Matthew Brito (4821), Erika Barraza (4821), Mark Crawford (10260), Diana Goold (10265), Jennifer Keese (former intern in 4821), Israel Martinez (4821), Richard Otero  (10265), and Darcy Fischer (10265).

The GreenGov program builds on a 15-year history of presidential awards for agency environmental achievement. The GreenGov awards honor exceptional federal civilian and military personnel, agency teams, agency projects, and facilities and agency programs that exemplify the federal government’s charge to lead by example. Other GreenGov awards were offered in the following categories: Lean, Clean and Green, Sustainability Hero, Good Neighbor, Green Dream Team, and Building the Future.