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Project reduces energy consumption, costs

By Mike Joseph | 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs | Nov. 4, 2010

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — It was fitting that the 802nd Civil Engineer Squadron was almost halfway through installing energy efficient window insulators at Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency headquarters during October.

Since October was national Energy Awareness Month, it was natural the squadron be involved in a major energy conservation project.

Once the project at AFISRA HQ (Bldg. 2000) is completed in early 2011, both energy and dollar savings will begin to be realized.

With an investment of nearly $475,000 to install the energy-efficient insulators, 802nd CES expects to recover about $100,000 annually in energy-savings costs. The AFISRA project follows the installation of In'Flector window insulators at the Gateway Club earlier in 2010 to improve that building's energy efficiency and reduce costs.

As Lackland adheres to reducing energy consumption 3 percent a year by 2015 per federal mandates (the requirements began in 2006), project managers are constantly looking to feasibly convert "energy hogs" to "energy efficient" when possible.

"It's going to be tougher," said Monico Luna, 802nd CES Energy and Utilities Team chief, about staying within the timeline mandates. "A lot of the low-hanging fruit has been picked, so now we're going to have to get up the tree."

While not every building is a good candidate for window insulators, Bldg. 2000 turned out to be a match for the In'Flectors when it came to energy savings and return on investment.

The installation will reduce an estimated 20 percent energy loss through the 53-year-old building's windows to about 3 percent. In'Flectors reflects hot or cool air back into the interior rather than allowing conduction through glass, convection or seal leakage.

In addition to the energy reduction, In'Flectors also provides more savings: 90 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays are blocked which prevents damage to carpets, drapes and furniture.

"We're looking at other potential buildings with a lot of windows but final determinations have not been made," Mr. Luna said. "Coming in FY '11 will be more HVAC modifications and other projects meant to conserve energy and dollars.

"There is still a lot of potential and opportunity but it's related to our investment cost and the return on investment while keeping in mind the ultimate goal of what is going to reduce energy."

Even with nine energy-reduction projects in FY 2010 and more planned for the future by taking advantage of new technology and innovations, energy conservation and raising awareness still comes down to educating the base populous and changing behavior patterns.

"We could bring in the best technology that's available but if it's not used correctly and people don't understand or embrace it (habits won't change)," Mr. Luna said. "Education is just reminding people.

"We can make an immediate impact by changing light bulbs but if people don't change their habits (to conserve energy), we're back at square one."