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A1: Heat Recovery


Supercomputer Heat Recovery for Campus Heating Loads at Oregon State University

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The Collaborative Innovation Complex (CIC) is a new 146,000 sf lab on campus at Oregon State University. It includes wet labs, maker spaces, clean room facilities, and a 1MW supercomputer. Rather than rejecting the supercomputer heat, the design includes a heat recovery system that can heat the CIC building itself, along with 3 other adjacent buildings. This allows these buildings to avoid or remove connection to the campus’s steam system and facilitates the University’s goals to move to an all-electric heating hot water system throughout campus, along with future carbon neutrality goals.


The heat recovery strategy saves more than 2,200 tons of CO2 annually. Other Energy Conservation Measures throughout the CIC include electrochromic glass, Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems, radiant floors, cascading air from writeup to lab spaces, combined lab and general exhaust, daylight harvesting, and rooftop Photovoltaic panels.


Decarbonizing Labs—A Case Study

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As codes, regulations, and owner goals push projects to shift from fossil fuel use toward all electric designs, projects need to consider new applications for existing technologies.  In this session, we will look at innovative heat pump and heat recovery applications for laboratory buildings. A case study will be presented of a Boston based lab building utilizing exhaust source heat pumps. Real world application and associated energy and carbon savings will be shared.  

Energy Recovery and Integrated Heat Pumps: Application of 100% Electric Designs Across Multiple Climate Zones 

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All Electric heating system applications are generally considered to be a challenge on a variety of fronts, including the containment of initial project costs and the difficulty of designing heating systems that are both efficient and resilient, particularly in colder climate zones.

This presentation reviews the application of three ALL ELECTRIC concepts, two of which include the integration of high performance energy recovery with heat pumps, based the characteristics of three very different climate zones. The analysis will also encompass initial capital cost considerations as well as annual utility expense advantages in both heating and cooling dominate climate zones.

The three climate zones where the 100% electric design concepts are applied include:

  1. Atlanta - Heat Pumps integrated directly into the Energy Recovery System

  2. San Francisco – High efficiency energy recovery with indirect adiabatic cooling of the exhaust and ground source heat pump

  3. Boston - Heat pumps with exhaust air heat source and a second coil in the exhaust coil, designed to provide the entire building HW and CW requirement

System 1 provides over 94% of the annual heating and 46% of the combined summer cooling and reheat requirement via energy recovery, while reducing initial chiller and boiler expense by over $1 million. System 2 eliminates gas-fired heating, while delivering a COP of 24.7 at winter design. System 3 provides 100% of the annual heating in a cold climate zone, without boilers.


B1: Ventilation Management


Sustainable Means Forever–Airflow Management for Lifecycle Building Performance


Research facilities are very expensive to build, operate and maintain. Tremendous resources are often applied during design and construction, but maintenance is often underfunded and sometimes overlooked. Failure to maintain building airflow systems can jeopardize occupant safety, energy efficiency and sustainability. Part of the difficulty involves poor documentation and lack of an airflow management plan. The ANSI/ASSP Z9.5 American National Standard for Laboratory Ventilation, published in April, 2022, requires all laboratories to have a Lab Ventilation Management Plan (LVMP) to ensure proper design, selection, operation, maintenance and use of exposure control devices and the lab ventilation systems.  The LVMP shall support the OSHA mandated Chemical Hygiene Plan along with an organizational plan that defines stakeholder roles and responsibilities, use of a risk assessment to determine appropriate safety measures, design guidelines, test and maintenance procedures and a management of change procedure.  This presentation will describe the elements of a comprehensive LVMP and how the plan can be developed and implemented to help optimize safety and sustainability of labs and critical workspaces.  


Balancing Safety and Sustainability for the Planning and Operation of Lab HVAC Systems–ASHRAE Laboratory Design Guide 2nd Edition

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The HVAC mechanical systems for labs require more ventilation air, cooling loads, temperature controls and sometimes humidity controls compared to a commercial building. ASHRAE addresses all these concerns along with specific guidelines that allow end users to work alongside the engineering community to establish specific laboratory ventilation design level (LDVL) requirements. 


The understanding of quantities of hazardous materials and the potential for airborne generation will vary with the type of lab or application. Understanding the severity of the hazard allows the engineer to develop an appropriate control strategy to maintain a safe and sustainable environment. Different approaches will be discussed for designing with the minimum ventilation air while maintaining safety, supplemental cooling, and energy recovery.

Integrated Safety and Sustainability for High Performance Laboratory HVAC Options


Labs are widely know to be a prodigious consumer of energy. On a per-square-foot basis, labs can consume 5 to 10 times more energy than office buildings. Unlike office buildings, which are typically designed around a ventilation standard of 20 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person of outside air (equal  to about one air change per hour [ACH] or less) lab modules normally require 100% outside air—often  at exchange rates between 6 and 10 ACH—to meet the aggressive exhaust requirements of fume hoods. Also, in comparison to other institution and commercial buildings, laboratories may also have high plug loads that can dominate the energy pie.

We will look at a holistic comparison between three different HVAC options meeting lab conditioning with energy recovery options. The three scenarios will generally showcase a popular and typical HVAC system with glycol run around energy recovery, a better energy-efficient HVAC system, and a optimized HVAC system that can facilitate towards zero carbon and higher energy efficiency. Energy modelling of these options will be demonstrated using IES VE software with system performance metrics being extracted from system and equipment data. 


C1: Commissioning


Leveraging Analytics for Commissioning and Building Optimization


Building data is highly valuable, but highly underutilized. Cutting-edge data analytics systems are making it easier than ever for building owners to incorporate advanced monitoring of their building systems, fully leveraging the value of their data. This presentation will cover a pilot project in which GMC Commissioning implemented a data analytics system across four life sciences buildings in Southern California. The goal of this pilot project was to reduce overall building energy consumption by 5%, increase occupant comfort, and use this initial data to evaluate the return on investment of rolling out this product across the client portfolio of buildings.


Maximizing Efficiency and Quality: Leveraging Automated Testing for Laboratory Commissioning

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The traditional commissioning process uses sampling to select equipment for functional acceptance testing when large quantities of equipment are present. Although this approach is generally effective in identifying wide-spread issues, it has several shortcomings: it fails to evaluate equipment not included in the sample, provides only a one-time validation of equipment operation, and the standard documentation is a simple checklist of pass/fail questions. During the construction and commissioning process of the new Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) in Golden, CO, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory team engaged Group14 Engineering to implement a Connected Commissioning process using fault detection and diagnostic software for automated functional acceptance testing.


This presentation highlights the advantages offered by automated functional testing in this critical laboratory setting: (1) sampling 100% of BAS-connected equipment during functional testing, (2) testing results backed by data beyond the traditional pass/fail checklist, and (3) an automated test process that can be regularly executed by the building management team for ongoing commissioning throughout the life of the building. The presentation will also cover technical challenges associated with Connected Commissioning and the important conversations with key stakeholders that need to occur well before functional acceptance testing in order to successfully implement the automated testing processes.

Why Monitoring-Based Commissioning Is the Pathway to Efficient Facilities  

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The Stowers Institute for Medical Research initiated an energy efficiency program in 2017, driven by rising utility costs and demand charges. Data was integral in getting buy-in from executives to fund the project and to better understand where upgrades were needed.  

By discussing facility goals with staff and implementing date retrieval with monitoring-based commissioning, Bernhard engineers were able to build a path to ensure their energy goals would be reached.  

Based on the data and study work, Bernhard teams discovered over 1,000 tons of excess CHW was being produced. The resulting savings led to a $1 million dollar chiller project being approved. 

The path to results was certainly not a straight line. This presentation highlights both the technical improvements and the engineering services utilized to guide decisions. A panel of experts will review the energy conservation measures implemented, the lessons learned, the resulting energy savings, and the project economics.


D1: Systems Optimization


Yes, It’s Possible to Decarbonize Your Labs, Vivaria AND Cleanrooms! 


Airside efficiency is one of the keys to a successful net zero lab strategy. Did you know airside efficiency also drives down carbon emissions in vivaria, and adaptive airflow can be successfully deployed for decarbonizing cleanrooms? This presentation will cover airside efficiency’s role in net zero labs, then dive into the decarbonization of vivaria and examine how precise multi-parameter IAQ data enables adaptive airflow in cleanrooms of ISO 6 and higher. Case studies and real data will be reviewed.


A Metered Approach to Critical Criteria

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A few key decisions early in a project can have substantial and compounding impacts on upfront capital expenditure and embodied carbon, as well as the ongoing, energy-efficient operation of labs. Traditional industry best practice guided these choices, but today's smart building technology has afforded designers a window into actual measured use of these labs, and the results demonstrate a profound divergence from such historical assumptions. This presentation explores right-sizing laboratory equipment loads and infrastructure by leveraging data on usage patterns, load reduction strategies, efficient equipment, and optimized system design.


Collaboration between stakeholders, owners, and designers enables right-sizing systems around key variables: equipment plug loads, ventilation air change rates, and future flexibility allowances. Benefits include enhanced performance, reliability, safety, comfort, flexibility, and lower capex and operating costs. Case studies from UC research labs, healthcare testing labs, and developer spec labs illustrate the impact and outline an optimal early-stage decision-making process.

Process Cooling for Laboratories and Lessons Learned

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The benefits of process cooling systems include energy savings and water savings for the lab buildings, which is impactful to the areas of the country consistently in a drought. For many years, researchers would use domestic (tap) water for processes in their labs. Domestic water is still used at bench top equipment like aspirators and rotary evaporators (Rotovaps) to draw a vacuum or condense vapor. Domestic water has also been used to cool lab chillers, ice makers, autoclaves, and similar equipment. When lab equipment is not water cooled, it is often air cooled which puts a burden on the HVAC systems.


A process cooling system typically includes chilled water to reject heat from lab equipment. Since most lab equipment was developed to reject heat to domestic water and dump to drain, that equipment is designed for warmer water and a high pressure drop (50 psi +). As such, a process cooling system is typically decoupled from a normal comfort cooling chilled water system that operates colder and at lower pressures. There are many ways to create a process cooling system that may include heat exchangers coupled with chilled water systems, cooling towers, dry cooling towers, air cooled chillers, heat exchangers coupled with energy recovery systems, heat pumps and more. Recent lessons learned such as equipment pressure drops, high pressure hoses for glassware, re-using old glassware that is not rated at higher pressures, leaks, drains and training of end users will be discussed.


E1: Labs and Computational Fluid Dynamics


The Value of CFD in Understanding Containment in Labs

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Laboratory spaces must be designed to ensure safety, containment and occupant comfort while striving to reduce energy consumption. Consideration and understanding of all these factors is crucial to designing an efficient laboratory system, which comes with a unique set of challenges. 

This presentation will discuss the value of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) when designing labs to understand how different design considerations can affect the movement of airflow and contaminants in a space. Using these findings, we will discuss how energy savings can be achieved without sacrificing safety. Following the standards recommended by the ASHRAE Laboratory Design Guide and ANSI Z9.5, we will explore the impact of air change rates, equipment loads, occupancy and different types of exhaust on containment of particulate and gaseous contaminants.


CFD and Wind Modeling Guide the Mechanical Design at New NREL Research and Innovation Laboratory

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Conventional HVAC design approaches for laboratories often rely on industry recognized minimum outside air and exhaust ventilation rate targets expressed in air changes per hour (ACH). These benchmarks have a significant impact on HVAC infrastructure sizing, including laboratory exhaust fans and associated discharge stacks. While generally accepted, they are often not challenged and leave opportunities for improvement, particularly from an energy standpoint. 

Computational flow dynamics (CFD) modeling can be used to validate many of the early assumptions that go into early infrastructure sizing. During the design of the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) on the NREL Golden campus, CFD modeling was implemented to optimize the air distribution throughout the laboratory, in an iterative process. Input parameters such as placement and sizing of the HVAC system were tested, to improve air quality within breathing zones, while minimizing flow rates.

In tandem with CFD modeling, wind tunnel modeling was performed using a scaled model of the RAIL building and project site. By simulating expected wind conditions, site topography, and exhaust stack discharge rates, stack sizing and locations were refined to minimize the potential for reentrainment into RAIL and other buildings on site, and reduce the aesthetic impact of large exhaust stacks. Both of these modeling efforts enhanced the expected energy performance of the HVAC systems.

Making Informed Decisions for Managing the Transport of Airborne Pathogens While Achieving Energy Use Reductions

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The COVID-19 pandemic did much to raise awareness about the quality of the air we breathe. Occupants and researchers in lab spaces need assurance that the air they breathe is healthy and clean. Simultaneously, concerns about the changing climate are prompting a strong push for decarbonization and a reduction in energy usage. As a result, the casual implementation of standard ventilation systems in labs may no longer be applicable, and thoughtful ventilation design will be the key to simultaneously achieving both safety and sustainability goals. The type of ventilation system in labs plays an important role in preventing the transmission of airborne pathogens and ensuring adequate distribution of supply air at lower air change rates.

This presentation will give the audience a better understanding of ventilation strategies, the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) as a design tool, and the impact of varying ventilation strategies on the dosage of pathogens occupants are exposed to, as well as occupant comfort.


F1: California Code Considerations


Update on California and DOE Efficiency Regulations for Fans


This presentation will be about the California Energy Commission (CEC) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requirements and regulations that have been recently passed, and those that are expected to soon be passed, affecting (or potentially affecting) laboratory fan manufacturers as well as laboratory designers, architects, installers, owners, engineers, and many others.


Update on Energy Consumption Limits for Laboratory Exhaust Systems in California Title 24

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The 2019 version of the California Energy Commission’s, Title 24, Part 6, Section 104.9(c), was the first state or federal code to specifically address the fan energy consumption in laboratory exhaust systems. The code is updated on a three-year cycle, and in 2022, little to no changes were included in this section. However, potentially significant changes may be coming in the next cycle. 

Previous versions of the code focused on the requirement of implementing one of two different options for variable air volume control of the laboratory exhaust stacks over 10,000 cfm. There were no requirements on how these systems were implemented and the level of energy savings that were achieved. You could literally run the fans at full load 100% of the time, but still call it a VAV operation if it was connected to an anemometer.

The newest version of the code is looking to remedy this situation. The current proposed changes include performance metrics on how the exhaust system will actually operate. While exact numbers are still being debated, the code will likely define a minimum level of turndown for the exhaust system that is required during unoccupied hours and a maximum fan power (watts/cfm) for both the full load design conditions and at the minimum ventilation rates.

The presentation will provide insight on how these changes will impact the design of laboratory exhaust systems, the selection of the appropriate fans, and the sequence of operation that will meet the new regulations.

How, Why and Why Not to Reduce Ventilation in Unoccupied Labs

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Turning down the air change rate in a lab at night is a common energy conservation measure. California building code writers are considering requiring it for most labs. That makes this a good time to look again at how to safely setback ventilation rates.  We’ll consider how the space is used, when the hazard is reduced, the technical means to reduce air flow and how to make sure the system operates safely when it's built and periodically as it is used. The talk applies published guidance from engineering and safety authorities.


G1: Ventilation Management


Using Risk Assessments to Right-Size Laboratory Airflow Systems


The ANSI/ASSP Z9.5 Standard for Laboratory Ventilation has long been considered the primary resource for establishing best practices in managing and maintaining laboratory ventilation systems. The 2022 version tasks organizations with establishing a Laboratory Ventilation Management Plan (LVMP) that addresses policies and procedures related to the safe and efficient operation of lab ventilation systems. A key element of the LVMP is the requirement for a Hazard Evaluation and Risk Assessment, effectively replacing the application of generic air change rates with a risk-based methodology for the development of minimum baselines for room ventilation.

This presentation will address the key elements of an effective risk assessment as outlined in the current Z9.5 standard and demonstrate how a properly developed ventilation risk assessment provides a key starting point in the safe and sustainable management of laboratory ventilation. Organizations may also utilize the minimum operating criteria derived from the ventilation risk assessment more effectively develop ventilation design parameters.


Incorporating Energy Savings Into Large-Scale Laboratory Infrastructure Replacement 

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The scope of a recently constructed energy savings performance contract (ESPC) project at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, laboratory included replacement of over 2,000 VAV laboratory terminal units, replacement of the laboratory control system, replacement of the laboratory lighting fixtures with LEDs, and replacement of over 6,000 linear feet of hot water distribution piping. The project’s implementation cost was $35.9M (overall cost including financing is $58M) with an estimated annual energy savings of 30%.


This presentation will provide an overview of the selected energy conservation measures (ECMs). It will also discuss activities that occurred during the project development phase, including laboratory module mockup equipment, ventilation effectiveness testing, and exhaust wind tunnel modeling, that ensured the viability of the proposed design. The logistical challenges of installing the new equipment while maintaining laboratory and vivarium operations will be discussed, as well as lessons learned during the implementation and operation phases.

Balancing Safety and Sustainability to Provide a High-Performance Laboratory Building


Early consideration of the ventilation strategies within a lab, and the dispersion of lab exhausts after discharge, are critical to provide a high-performance lab that successfully implements energy saving design techniques while protecting the building occupants. Energy-reducing design techniques that could influence occupant safety include:

  • Lab ventilation design (ACHs, local capture, etc.);

  • Low-energy-use lab exhaust fans (variable volume flow and/or low discharge velocity);

  • Openings in the building envelope (vents, windows); and

  • Other natural ventilation features (wind scoops/towers).


When these concepts are considered late in lab design, it can be very challenging to optimize these sustainable strategies while ensuring environmental health and safety objectives are met. 

It is a common misconception that a higher number of air change rates within a lab will provide occupant safety. This presentation will challenge the concept of using air changes as a measure of occupant safety. Specific examples and case studies will be used to demonstrate the benefits of considering the details of the internal laboratory ventilation system and exhaust dispersion and potential emission infiltration during the early stages of laboratory design, and how this approach is critical to ensure a laboratory will meet sustainability and energy use goals while satisfying appropriate safety objectives. 


H1: Efficient Operations


Be A Snorkel Slayer: They Are Ineffective and Can Drive HVAC Inefficiency

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Some labs may have more than 100 snorkels spread throughout the building. They are cute by day, and vampires by night. They appear to be convenient, safe and relatively benign. From observations of many laboratory buildings, less than 5% of them are in use while drawing excess airflow, their effectiveness decays dramatically beyond 6” from the mouth, and the suction required at the end of a long duct may require the exhaust fans operate at very high static pressure. Eliminating them as a ubiquitous, feel-good solution to airborne hazards will provide better industrial hygiene and allow exhaust systems to perform at peak performance.  


Energy Recovery and Integrated Heat Pumps: A Sustainable Path to 100% Electrification

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Building cooling during summer season is close 100% electric, so we need to focus on (further) electrifying the heating season.

Depending on the climate zone a building is located in, 60% to 95% of the annual heating requirement for outside air is electrified with a high-performing energy recovery system, typically with a COP greater than 20! The balance of the heating requirement is usually covered by gas boilers. The least expensive solution to full electrification would be a direct-electric boiler with all its draw-backs. A more sustainable solution is the integration of a heat pump in or around the energy recovery system. Three concepts will be discussed:

  1. Heat pumps' integration directly in the energy recovery system.

  2. Heat pumps with exhaust air heat source through a dedicated, second coil in the exhaust, tied into the energy recovery system.

  3. Heat pumps with exhaust air heat source through dedicated, second coil in the exhaust, feeding hot and cold buffer tanks covering the entire building hot water and cold water requirements.


Solution 1 reduces the annual gas boiler consumption by 50% to 100% (depending on climate zone); Solution 2 by 90% to 100%; and Solution 3 by 100%.

Office and Lab HVAC Systems: To Share or Not to Share


The presentation will showcase common options to either separate or combine HVAC systems serving laboratory and office spaces.  Design options will be reviewed for their performance against a range of key performance metrics, including energy efficiency, first cost, operating cost, roof space, shaft space, design flexibility, specific program requirements, climate responsiveness, and leasing/marketability. Given the range of impacts, the presentation will include perspectives from a design engineer, architect, and owner's representative.


Further background: most laboratory buildings include a mix of program types with a variety of ventilation and conditioning needs. Spaces like wet labs and vivariums require once-through ventilation with specialized exhaust (i.e., no recirculation of air), while many other spaces (e.g., office areas, write-up spaces, lounge areas) are typically able to use more conventional systems that recirculate a portion of airflow. Ultimately, the choice of whether to use shared dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) or separate air handling systems for lab and office spaces comes down to owner and designer preferences informed by a wide range of both objective and subjective criteria.  This decision can have significant impacts on building layout, cost, and functional performance.


I1: Controls


The Importance of Real-Time Feedback on Laboratory Control Systems


The laboratory control system has always had the same key goals in mind: maintain a safe and comfortable environment for facility occupants. When a system is successfully deployed, the objectives are achieved while trying to be as efficient as possible, reducing energy use, lowering operational costs and diminishing environmental impacts.

As automation technology has evolved, greater processing speeds and capacity are now available while remaining cost-effective. This increase in “brain power” affords us the possibility of monitoring and acting on real-time information with more and more advanced strategies.


While relying on tried-and-tested methodologies, several traditional processes can be improved with this state-of-the-art tool. Adding a few simple elements in measurement allows a more proactive approach to operating a lab while consuming less energy.

This presentation will discuss some of the technologies that can be implemented in labs, give examples of devices used, discuss control strategies and give examples of sites where similar systems have been deployed.


A Safety Pro’s Guide to Building Automation


Since the days of a crude canopy hood connected to a manually switched blower, laboratory ventilation has grown steadily more specialized, more capable, and more complicated. This includes a growing role for Building Automation Systems. The BAS is essential to the intended function of today’s mechanical system; it’s made to serve lab users and building operators, but it can become an obstacle for who people just need it all to work.

This session introduces automation concepts briefly and then connects them to the day-to-day issues that arise in labs. The goal is to turn BAS from a burden into a tool.

It’s Complicated: Balancing Objectives in Lab Control Upgrades

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Stanford University supports teaching and research in over 80 laboratory buildings. The building management team is continuously striving to improve and sustain the performance of its lab buildings.  We have successfully completed whole building energy efficiency upgrades in over 20 large lab buildings since 2006. In 2015, we embarked on the long journey to tackle Lokey Chem Bio, a high-density lab building, housing chemistry and biology labs, which has over 160 fume hoods in use, more than any other academic building on campus.  

Lokey posed particular challenges and opportunities to achieve both environmental safety and energy efficiency goals. It provided a good case study in how to update the control system in a complex lab environment, moving towards more open building controls. This required close collaboration between internal stakeholders, vendors, and consultants. This added effort paid off when the project was easily able to leverage the campus investment in fault detection and diagnostics (FDD). The team faced some typical challenges in campus lab buildings, including deferred maintenance, risk management concerns, and construction in occupied spaces. 


In the end, Stanford pursued and completed an upgrade of a building automation system at a major science building that is now one of its “smartest” lab buildings. Lokey continues to be an environment for new initiatives using analytics to support its energy efficiency and environmental safety objectives.

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