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December 2006 - January 2007


Marc Genty

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the Delphi Coordinator. They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential. They must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2, and on the Delphi Web site. Staff Notes Monthly publishes questions and answers of general interest to staff, and the Delphi Web site has a log of all questions submitted since 1995.

Delphi Question: Massage therapy

Delphi Question #562 (received October 6): I have heard numerous requests over the years to have a certified massage therapist on site to perform fee-based chair massage once or twice a month. Many other companies offer this benefit to their employees. The therapist would be licensed by the city, and would carry liability insurance through a recognized organization, such as the American Massage Therapy Association.

Therapeutic massage can help prevent or ease symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic neck or back pain, among other problems. Is this a service UCAR/NCAR is able to offer to employees?

Response (received December 5): This issue has been reviewed in the past. Because of logistical and liability issues, onsite massage therapy has not been previously offered. Since Boulder has many locations where this service is offered, onsite massage therapy has been viewed as a convenience to employees, rather than a necessary benefit.

The inquiry is timely, however, as this issue is currently being reviewed again. We initiated a liability and logistical review on October 12, and expect to have additional information within a few weeks. Once that information is reviewed, we will decide whether or not to offer this service. That decision is expected to occur sometime in 2007.

We will supply further information once a decision has been made.

—Bob Roesch, director
Human Resources

Delphi Question: Energy consumption

Delphi Question #563 (received October 20): What are we doing as an institution to help reduce the stress on nonrenewable energy consumption in the area of electricity? I wonder if F&A has ever researched what it would cost to implement new resources? How much do we spend at all the sites for electricity?

I would like to propose to NCAR, UCAR, and UOP, which are together dedicated to understanding our changing Earth system, educating about ­atmospheric and related sciences, supporting a global community of researchers, and benefiting society through science and technology, that we become the change that’s needed to improve our environment by joining other businesses that are dedicated to using renewable energy by “going solar.” If we introduced solar panels at our lab sites, the money spent to purchase and install the panels would eventually be repaid in savings from climbing energy prices. And the organization could get rebates for its spending on solar energy. Technology is getting better in this area and I am very excited about how we could benefit from it. I think it would fall in line with our mission statement.

Here is a link to a site that provides more information. (I am in no way connected to Gaiam; it’s just one source, and I like what it stands for.) http://colorado.realgoodssolar.com/index.html

Businesses large and small around the world are using solar energy, including the White House, Vatican, National Park Service, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, World Health Organization, Discovery Channel, Greenpeace, Sony, AT&T, Disney, Pacific Bell, and many others.

Response (received December 8): The majority of our efforts to minimize energy consumption are related to Demand Side Management practices. These consist primarily of the use of our building automation system control of our facility’s HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems. By controlling system components based on building occupancy levels, we are able to maximize HVAC system operations. Unfortunately, a large portion of our energy consumption is in the form of systems that need to operate continuously and as a result are difficult to manage.

F&A has researched some alternatives in renewable resources and we are currently slated to use 10% wind power energy when it is available to us. It is worth noting that wind energy will be purchased at a premium that will impact our energy budgets.

The cost of electricity for all UCAR sites for fiscal year 2006 was $1.895 million. This high cost is largely due to NCAR’s computing systems that contributed 37.5% of our electrical energy consumption for the fiscal year.

The Gaiam site you referenced has some good information on the benefits of solar, but it addresses residential installations only. Typically, commercial facility energy savings measures are considered acceptable when they can produce energy savings at a level that will repay the investment in eight to 10 years. Gaiam’s example of a 6.5 Kw residential installation uses electric rates of 10 cents per Kw and has a simple payback of more than 60 years. UCAR’s energy rates that averaged between 4.5 and 5.5 cents per Kw for fiscal year 2006 would result in a payback period nearly twice as long.

We in F&A and Physical Plant Services are very aware of energy costs and the environmental impact of energy produced by fossil fuels. Your question raises some good points, and as the cost of solar technologies comes down, we can consider using solar energy for some of our nonessential systems, such as those currently in use at some of the locations you have listed. These could include the energy used to operate grounds systems and exterior lighting. Our choices, however, will have to be based on budgetary impact and the payback that can be realized from energy savings.

—John Pereira, director
Physical Plant Services

Delphi Question: FL1 lawn

Delphi Question #564 (received October 23): I have noticed that the lawn between the north wall of FL1 and the parking lot appears to be deteriorating significantly with the prairie dog takeover occurring there. There are perhaps 10 mounds of dirt, and large sections are barren. I haven’t noticed this same problem on other NCAR property. Can anything be done to improve this area’s appearance?

Response (received November 3): We are exploring ways to correct the prairie dog issues at FL1. Due to recently adopted modifications to City of Boulder ordinances, the solution is neither easy nor inexpensive. Any plans to correct the problem have to be approved by the City of Boulder and would involve relocation and extensive fencing. Currently the approval process could take up to five months. Given the ban on relocation of prairie dogs from the first of March to the end of May, this means that no relocation or construction activity can occur before next summer. We will keep everyone informed of our progress on this.

—John Pereira, director
Physical Plant Services



In this issue...

2006 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards

Cosmic update: Scientists enthusiastic about preliminary results

Short Takes

Let it snow, let it snow....

New book explores how to communicate climate change

Delphi Question: Massage therapy, energy consumption, FL1 lawn

Just One Look

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