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NEWS | March 16, 2010

AETC Airmen lead way to efficient energy practices

By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

Improving Air Force energy efficiency depends on its Airmen and the sharing of their innovative ideas, said the service's acting senior energy official during her Headquarters Air Education and Training Command visit here March 2.

"They need to ensure they follow through with those ideas by presenting those better ways of doing business; Airmen are absolutely key in creating a better Air Force," said Debra Tune, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for logistics, who also is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.

During Mrs. Tune's visit, Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, AETC commander, and members of the major command's Energy Management Steering Group discussed the organization's energy program difficulties and successes, ways to ensure safe practices, and how incentive programs continue to fuel AETC's, and the Air Force's, flight plan for a more energy-efficient force. In addition to dedication, tracking progress is a strength of the command's energy management program.

"If you can measure it, you can improve it," General Lorenz said. "That's what Balanced Scorecard is all about; it's about allocating money and resources where they're most needed."

Balanced Scorecard is AETC's method of tracking the progress of all its major programs.

A few of the command's highlighted efforts include the use of virtual chilled water loops at Randolph Air Force Base; the use of wind power at Laughlin AFB, Texas; solar power projects at Tyndall AFB, Fla., Lackland AFB, Texas, and Luke AFB, Ariz.; a future landfill gas initiative at Goodfellow AFB, Texas; increasing the command's hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicle fleets, and using aircraft simulators as often as possible in aviation training.

To aid commands in their efforts, Air Force officials are taking an integrated approach to energy planning and management by establishing a robust policy framework with Air Force Policy Directive 90-17, Energy Management, and Air Force Instruction 90-1701, Energy Management. These products outline mandatory energy goals and objectives, as well as roles and responsibilities for all levels of the Air Force, Mrs. Tune said.

Additionally, the recently released 2010 Air Force Energy Plan provides an operational framework for accomplishing the Air Force energy goals: reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture. The plan includes end-state operational energy goals and guidance to integrate energy goals into the Air Force's primary operating areas: aviation, acquisition and technology, and infrastructure.

The energy goal "Change the Culture" is the biggest challenge for AETC, educating enlisted recruits and future officers on efficient energy-use awareness, Mrs. Tune said, after witnessing 33 years of change as a member of the Air Force Logistics career field. To meet the challenge, AETC officials have employed an energy awareness campaign for their 14 units with scheduled reports to General Lorenz, tracking progress.

"AETC plays a critical role in helping us achieve lasting culture change," she said. "As the 'First Command,' AETC has the opportunity to mold our Airmen right from the beginning, starting in basic training, continuing to instill good habits in technical and aviation training, followed-up through professional military education courses. This is the stage from which Airmen develop and refine skills, and therefore (AETC) plays a critical role in the way the Air Force affects culture change."

In its efforts to balance the cost of operations and national security with the cost to the environment, it can be difficult for technological advances to meet demand. One challenge AETC officials have met with their alternative fuels vehicle fleet is acquiring the amount of fuel needed to maintain operations. However, they still reduced the ground fleet fuel consumption by 8 percent and beat the Air Force fuel consumption goal in 2009. Command officials are working on devising ways to continue reducing non-renewable fuels use, increasing its alternative fuels use and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles.

Aviation operations, including initial and upgrade training, and real-world flying missions, account for 79 percent of the Air Force's energy consumption. The force's goal is to reduce aviation fuel use from a 2006 baseline by 10 percent by 2015 by using technologically-advanced aircraft materials and improving aviation fuel management, Mrs. Tune said.

Using materials that are lighter, yet strong, will improve fuel efficiency, and instilling in all Airmen a sense of responsibility for energy management, provides them with strategies to optimize fuel use in operations without compromising mission effectiveness, she said. To save energy, AETC programs encourage revalidating aircrew training events to ensure all flight time is effective and efficient, optimizing flight routes and using aircraft training simulators whenever practically feasible without compromising pilot qualifications.

With all of AETC's successes, the command's Energy Management Steering Group and Air Force leaders continue to seek ways to improve the way the service provides uncompromised national security while using fuels, electricity, water and other energy resources more wisely.

"We're working to develop the most effective and efficient processes, and Airmen can help make a better Air Force and make our dollars go further," Mrs. Tune said. "The only way to do that is through Airmen's ideas. They're out there every day They can identify inefficient processes and think of better ways of doing those processes. What we need is for our Airmen to share those innovative ideas with their leaders who feed those ideas up to the governing offices, as I've seen here, which improves energy efficiency at major command and base levels."

Information about the Air Force energy plans and innovations is available on the Air Force Installations, Environment and Logistics Web site at http://www.safie.hq.af.mil/esoh/index.asp. Additional information is available on the Air Force Energy Program Facebook site at www.facebook.com/AirForceEnergy.