Solar Demonstrations on Federal Residences:

Better Planning and Management Control Needed

EMD-78-53: Published: Apr 13, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 13, 1978.

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The Solar Heating and Cooling Demonstration Act of 1974 provides for demonstrating the practical use of solar heating in various U.S. geographic and climatic regions. To demonstrate the residential use of solar heating in the federal sector, the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), whose responsibilities were assumed by the Department of Energy (DOE), provided funding authority to the Department of Defense (DOD) for two demonstration projects. Under the first project, DOD was to install solar heating devices on 35 new and 15 existing single family residential units at military bases. The second project was for the demonstration of solar heating systems on 80 residential units using central collector fields near the residences.

After more than 2 years of effort, expenditures of $719,000, and schedule slippages, DOD requested ERDA permission to terminate the first project and redirect the remaining unobligated funds to other DOD solar efforts. The project was never completed because overdesigning of solar systems led to bids which were far above DOD estimates. In the initial phases of funding of the project, neither ERDA nor DOD had a detailed plan describing the project, its objectives, decision points, milestones, and total cost. Although a plan was later developed, it was completed too late to aid management in directing and controlling the project. Also, no effective monitoring system was instituted. DOD redirection efforts are aimed at commercial applications and research and development projects which are not consistent with the role given to DOD under the act. Similar problems to those encountered in the first project could occur in the second project.

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