Energy-Saving Efforts Earn WRANGB and Others National Awards

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  • By Jennifer Elmore
The Air Force is living up to its new facility energy slogan, "Think Green, Build Green, Fly Blue," by winning three Federal Energy and Water Management Program awards presented by the Department of Energy' s Federal Energy Management Program. Each year, DOE FEMP honors individuals and organizations within the federal government making significant contributions to the efficient use of energy and water resources. Conservation efforts in fiscal year 2009 by energy teams at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and Kadena Air Base, Japan, are being recognized.

Minot AFB
By decommissioning its aged central heat plant and distribution system and installing ground source heat pumps and facility-specific, high-efficiency boilers, Minot AFB reduced energy by 38 percent and water consumption by 13 percent.

Hickam AFB
Engineers at Hickam AFB collocated a solar array with a hydrogen refueling station in the transportation vehicle compound. The solar array consists of more than 800 panels rated for an output of 146 kilowatts. The refueling station is primarily powered by the solar array, but uses the base electrical grid as a backup. The array saves the base $35,000 a year in utility costs.

Kadena AB
Water is one of the most valuable natural resources on Okinawa because the island is totally dependent upon rainfall for fresh water. With this in mind, Kadena implemented multiple water conservation initiatives that reduced consumption by 141 million gallons. Kadena initiated a robust water conservation awareness program, installed more than 300 ENERGY STAR clothes washers, enforced water conservation measures in 1,350 dormitory rooms, and used an aggressive water leak detection and repair program.

The winners will be honored during a presentation in October in Washington, D.C.

"Winners of the FEMP award serve as great examples for the entire Air Force, and offer valuable lessons learned in energy and water conservation," said Maj Gen Timothy Byers, the Air Force Civil Engineer. "I am proud of the Air Force's progress, and look forward to another outstanding year."

The Air Force is also recognizing its own. On August 19, 2010, the Air Facility Energy Center, a division of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall AFB, Fla., presented the Reduced Energy Appreciation Program awards during the "Air Force Day" energy meeting in Dallas, Texas. AFFEC identifies the top energy- and water-reducing bases based on a three-year average. Two bases and one overseas base are honored each year. This year's winners are Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Okla. (15 percent), Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (19 percent), and Osan AB, Korea (7 percent).

Osan AB
Energy Manager Captain Ryan Oot leads the effort at Osan. He says a change in culture is one of the biggest reasons for the reduction. "As an example of culture change in action, a facility manager came to us and said he suspected his facility was over-lit," said Captain Oot. "We familiarized him with the appropriate lighting requirements. After borrowing our lux meter, he was able to perform extensive delamping throughout his facility."

Will Rogers ANGB
Will Rogers ANGB Commander, Colonel Gregory Ferguson, has advice for other Air Force leaders who want to reduce energy use on their base. "It's consistency. It's a matter of telling folks to be mindful and to listen to their energy manager. You must call and remind people to conserve energy, otherwise it stops right there." Col Ferguson says not only is reducing energy the right thing to do, it's mandated, and the money saved can be used for carrying out the mission.

Vandenberg AFB
One of Vandenberg's most significant energy reduction milestones to date is the installation of 400 smart meters. Energy Manager Brad King and Utilities Specialist Pernell Rush say data from the meters has proven invaluable. For example, they no longer estimate how much money reimbursable tenants must pay the base for their energy. One tenant's bill more than doubled when meter data revealed they had only been paying 40 percent of what they were actually using. The large increase in the bill surprised the tenants and is motivating them to save energy. "We told them the bill would stay high if they didn't pay more attention. So they looked into it and started turning off equipment they didn't need any more," said Mr. Rush.

The awards highlight conservation accomplishments at a time when energy experts in the infrastructure, aviation, operations, and acquisition communities are gearing up for Energy Awareness Month. This year the Air Force's theme is "A New Culture: Energy as an Operations Enabler." Look for Air Force EAM messages and activities in October.