NEWS | Aug. 20, 2010

Journal honors base's green efforts

By Patrick Desmond 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

An honor three years in the making, Lackland was recently named a recipient of the San Antonio Business Journal's 2010 Going Green award, distinguishing the installation from a pool of about 100 nominated local businesses.

In an Aug. 13 article by the journal, Lackland was highlighted, along with 16 other San Antonio businesses, for its conscientious efforts to save the planet.

San Antonio Business Journal Project coordinator Donna Tuttle said winning organizations had to display "real, measurable results" in its green efforts.

Lackland's dramatic energy savings helped place its name among the winners, Ms. Tuttle said.

Overall, Lackland's energy expenditure was reduced by 13 percent during the 2009 award period, helping the base save $1,879,468 during its fiscal year and avoid producing 606 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Base energy manager Andy Hinojosa, 802nd Civil Engineer Squadron, said base-wide initiatives - taking three years to plan, implement and execute - reduced the base's annual energy demand.

In confronting the need to reduce energy, the 802nd CES energy team targeted areas needing improvement, came up with solutions to increase efficiency and also examined options for feasible renewable energy projects.

Heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, and light and water fixtures were either replaced or improved in roughly 1,200 buildings on base.

HVAC systems in five facilities were converted from multi-zone to variable air volume units, further increasing energy efficiency.

Two air conditioning units were replaced along with cooling towers, pumps, motors and an overhaul of the electrical system that powers it.

The retrofitting of more than 33,675 light fixtures in buildings around the base was one of the easier measurable energy saving solutions, Mr. Hinojosa said.

The light fixtures, including new bulbs, lamps and ballasts, reduced the base's electricity usage by more than 2 million watts.

They also saved City Public Service Energy more than $2 million and earned Lackland a $1.1 million rebate in March of last year.

Low-flow water faucets and showerheads, hands-free sink faucets and low-water usage toilets were installed in 116 buildings.

Two major innovations were the construction of an 800,000-gallon thermal storage chilled water tank which feeds chilled water through facilities to cool its interior, and the installation of solar panels outside the Skylark Aquatic Center.

The tank, which feeds chilled water through facilities to air condition its interior, chills water at night to avoid the process during hot afternoons and expensive peak priced hours.

The Skylark Aquatic Center's array of solar panels produces renewable energy to supplement heat provided by boilers that warm the pool's water.

The initiatives are part of the energy team's plan for reducing energy use by 3 percent annually, following a 10-year federal mandate which began in 2006.

Busy working on the various projects, Mr. Hinojosa said he was somewhat surprised when he heard the good news but was pleased to be recognized within the business community.

"We have done quite a bit," he said. "We're excited to have more interface with the business community."

The base has earned several awards for its conservation efforts in the past, from organizations such as the San Antonio Water System and CPS.

But as for Mr. Hinojosa - whose job it is to measure energy use and then manage it - he would just as soon get back to work.

"It's kind of nice to see that the base energy team is recognized," Lackland's energy manager for more than 35 years said. "But for the most part, results, for me, are always better."