SFO dims lights, stops escalators to conserve energy

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Tuesday January 30 03:19 PM EST

SFO Dims Lights, Stops Escalators to Conserve Energy


Officials at the power-hungry San Francisco International Airport say they have cut energy use by 10 percent through conservation measures over the past several days.

Airport spokesman Ron Wilson said the most significant cut had been achieved by turning off three large water chillers that supply the airport's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. These chillers alone use around 5 megawatts of electricity a day out of the airport's usual 51 megawatts.

Wilson said that as long as the weather stays mild and cool, the chillers won't be missed.

"Under the current weather situation we can go on forever, but if this occurs in summer we could be in trouble," he said, noting that the airport buildings would heat up uncomfortably in hot weather without air conditioning.

The airport has also placed employee parking garages and its water treatment facility on generators, shut down unnecessary escalators and moving sidewalks and dimmed lights.

Wilson said the newly opened International Terminal had been designed well enough that it is still very light under the conservation measures, especially with a huge skylight and numerous windows.

"The new international terminal is designed so that we can deal with these issues quite simply via the computer, and it is designed to take advantage of all the natural resources like natural light and heat," he said.

The older terminal buildings, however, are not all so well designed and some areas are quite dark.

"There are certain sections in the old terminal where I wouldn't recommend trying to read," he said.

Airline passengers coming in from outside California are a bit confused by the dimmed lights and stilled moving sidewalks, Wilson said.

"Once you tell them that we're having an energy crisis in California, they understand," he said. United Airlines has contributed to conservation efforts by dimming lights, reducing non-essential electric services, and powering their maintenance operation with a co-generation plant.

If necessary, Wilson said the airport can put its rental car center on a backup generator and reduce lighting in some areas even further.

For more Bay Area news and information, visit the PIX Page at www.kpix.com.

-- Swissrose (cellier@azstarnet.com), January 30, 2001

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