Turn energy awareness into action

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Elmore
  • Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency
This October, the Air Force joins our nation once again to observe Energy Awareness Month. This year's theme, "Power the Force, Fuel the Fight," encourages us to do more than just be "aware." Instead, military personnel and civilians alike should take action.

"Our country is in a new energy paradigm and we can no longer use energy at will without regard to the consequences. We must make a commitment, plain and simple, to re-think the way we use - and view - energy," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers.

The Air Force is making excellent progress toward satisfying federal energy mandates. "Some of the more prominent goals require us to reduce energy intensity 30 percent by 2015, reduce water intensity 26 percent by 2020, and increase renewable energy to 25 percent of all electricity use by 2025," said Rick Stacey, chief of the Air Force Facility Energy Center, a division of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. "But as time goes by, the goals are getting tougher. We need everyone doing all they can do to help the Air Force continue our energy program successes."

Since 2003, the Air Force has reduced energy use nearly 15 percent, water consumption 11 percent, and more than six percent of all electricity is obtained from renewable sources. "The Air Force is actively seeking ways to reduce our energy demand, increase our renewable energy supply, and make ourselves leaner, cleaner, and smarter when it comes to energy use," said Byers.

Eglin is doing its part to promote energy awareness. The Energy Management Center is sponsoring a poster contest at Eglin Elementary School to bring this message to the youth of Eglin. There will be an energy exposition in front of the exchange from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All utility partners will have energy awareness and conservation materials in booth-type settings under tents and contest winners will be awarded their prizes from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Additionally, there will be several energy saving electric and hybrid vehicles on display (plug-in electrics, Tesla, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, bucket truck, and natural gas operated vehicle) provided by Gulf Power, Okaloosa Gas, and base transportation.

Here are some tips from the Air Force on how to be more energy aware.

Reduce demand

The Air Force uses facility energy audits, utility meters, energy recommissionings, and a variety of other tools to pursue aggressive reduction targets. At Kirtland AFB, N.M., audits led to an upgraded energy management control system that is expected to save $3.7 million over the lifetime of the system. Newly installed meters at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., allowed for better resource management and generated $2 million of new revenue through more accurate billing of non-Department of Defense tenants. And Air Combat Command's facility recommissioning, or building "tune-up," program incurred enough energy savings to cut $433,000 from utility bills in 2010.

Increase supply

The Air Force leads the Department of Defense as the number one producer and user of renewable energy. More than six percent of our electric supply comes from on-base renewable energy projects including wind, solar, geothermal, and landfill gas. "We are evaluating ways to expand our portfolio to include waste-to-energy and biomass projects as we work toward producing 25 percent renewable energy by 2025," said Ken Gray, AFFEC Rates and Renewable Branch chief. Two new wind turbines will come online this fall at the Massachusetts Military Reservation. Additionally, construction will soon begin on a 14 megawatt solar array at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

Change the culture

Our success, our ability to truly change the Air Force culture and develop a new mindset when it comes to energy, depends on you. "Each individual can and must contribute," said Stacey. "No matter how small or how large the action, people will ultimately make the difference. Take a moment to turn off lights and appliances when not in use; make saving energy and water a habit every day; and encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to do their part too."

Take "ACTION" this Energy Awareness Month. A-C-T-I-O-N stands for: Appliance reduction; Computer log off; Temperature set points; Inform facility managers; Outdoor conservation; and No waste. These are easy steps that can yield positive results for the community and the Air Force.

· Appliance reduction - Look around your workspace. Do you have a refrigerator or coffee maker in your work area? How many personal appliances can be removed or consolidated in common areas like the break room? Reducing energy usage by reducing the number of appliances and machines you use can yield significant energy savings. For example, in an evaluation of just two buildings at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the base energy manager found a staggering 810 appliances that could be unplugged or eliminated. The list included radios, fans, refrigerators, coffee makers, microwaves, and toasters.

· Computer log off - Since personnel at many installations are advised not to turn off computers, it's important to log-off. This ensures that computers will enter energy-saving sleep mode. Before you pull your ID card and go home for the day, remember to log off. The Air Force IT Power Management Team estimates this action alone can save more than $10 million a year.

· Temperature Control - Climate control set points can have a major impact on energy use. Most bases use settings of 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. Be familiar with your base's temperature set point policy. Heating and cooling systems are not perfect, so workspaces may not be at optimum comfort temperatures. Rather than increasing energy demand with space heaters or fans, dress appropriately for the temperature in your facility. If your building is too cool in the summer or too hot in the winter, the thermostat could be set incorrectly, which means the Air Force is wasting energy.

· Inform your facility manager - Report incorrect temperature set points, leaky faucets, blocked air vents, cracked windows, and other problems to your facility manager or civil engineer customer service.

· Outdoor conservation - If you notice a broken sprinkler head wasting water or area lights left on in a parking lot during the day, report it to your local civil engineer customer service.

· No waste - Don't turn a blind eye to problems. If you see something that doesn't need to be on, turn it off. If you see a problem, report it.

Take time to review your daily routine to conserve energy and water. Empower others to take action. Every dollar saved on energy is a dollar that can be spent on our Airmen, their readiness, and our mission to Fly, Fight, Win!