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Home : News : News
NEWS | March 12, 2014

SAMMC garage relighting project saves money at no cost to Joint Base San Antonio

By Steve Elliott JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs

The San Antonio Military Medical Center's multi-story parking facility is getting a major energy conservation face-lift starting Monday as the result of an innocuous phone call.

"A local resident called to say he was seeing the bright lights on in the SAMMC garage around the clock. He thought it was a waste of money and energy," said Frank Thomas, Joint Base San Antonio resource efficiency manager.

"I went to check it out, contacted Brooke Army Medical Center leadership and then conducted a light system audit. An energy conservation project was initiated as a result."

After the garage opened several years ago, there was a noticeable uptick in energy costs of approximately $300,000 a year to BAMC, with another $150,000 in annual lighting maintenance, Thomas said.

"When the garage was originally planned, it was designed with older, less efficient lighting, as some of the new lighting technologies were not as prevalent then. This is sometimes the case with a project that takes many years to come to fruition," Thomas added. "It was found that the garage was overlit as well."

Anyone who has parked in that garage knows there are thousands of lights in there. So how much will this lighting upgrade cost?

"This is what is incredible! It will come at no cost for JBSA-Fort Sam Houston," exclaimed Thomas. "It originally had an independent government estimate of $1,586,000.

An Air Force Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment grant was awarded for $978,200, coordinated by Craig Henry, the resource efficiency manager at the time.

"The relighting project became the inaugural energy conservation project partnered locally with CPS Energy and JBSA," Thomas said.

"The JBSA energy team and contracting office employed the area-wide Public Utility Contract for Electricity, Natural Gas, and Regulated Energy Management Services and CPS Energy's bid for the project came in at an amazing $581,647."

After the project wraps up May 23, it will save an estimated 11,223,800 Btu or 3,288,573.4 kilowatt-hours annually. There will also be an annual savings of $200,652 in energy and more than $100,000 in maintenance costs. "This project will pay for itself in a very short time," Thomas added.

By using CPS Energy's conservation rebate program, the local utility company will rebate up to 60 percent of the cost of the project, or approximately $230,000.

"Federal funding came through a manpower arena program called Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment or PECI," Thomas said. "It's an Air Force Program established in 1977 that uses self-sustaining funds to purchase equipment or facilities."

Facility Solutions Group of San Antonio, a subcontractor to CPS Energy, will carry out the project and Thomas said SAMMC visitors won't notice any lack of parking spaces during the refitting project.

"The parking garage will have some closures, which will be coordinated with BAMC and not affect the flow of traffic or visitors and patients," he said.

"Patrons will notice they will be able to see more clearly in most areas. They won't see unnecessary lights on, when daylight is adequate."

If anything, Thomas notes, lighting throughout the garage will be clearer, more efficient and more reliable. The new fixtures relight instantly and last longer. In addition, energy-saving LED lighting will be used on the roof.

"I guess you can say that one phone call was the first step towards a major energy savings for Joint Base San Antonio," Thomas said.