NEWS | Sept. 27, 2013

Turn energy awareness into action

By Jerry McCall 502nd Civil Engineering Squadron

This October, the Air Force joins the nation in observing Energy Action Month. This year's theme, "I am Air Force Energy," encourages people to do more than just be aware. Instead, military members and civilians alike should take action.

"The Air Force is making excellent progress toward satisfying federal energy mandates," said Rick Stacey, chief of the Air Force Facility Energy Center, a division of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

"The more prominent goals require us to reduce energy intensity 30 percent by 2015, reduce water intensity 26 percent by 2020 and increase renewable energy to 25 percent of all electricity use by 2025," Stacey said. "These goals are getting tougher. People need to do all they can do to help the Air Force continue its energy program successes."

Since 2003, the Air Force has reduced energy use by nearly 15 percent and water consumption by 11 percent. More than six percent of all electricity is obtained from renewable sources. The Air Force energy strategy for meeting these goals is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture.

"In fiscal year 2012, the Air Force saved more than $1.5 billion through smarter buildings, new technologies, and more efficient flight operations," said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning. "The smart use of energy means flying our aircraft farther, transporting more cargo, and accomplishing our mission in a more efficient and effective way."

The Air Force uses facility energy audits, utility meters, energy recommissioning, and a variety of other tools to pursue aggressive reduction targets. For example, at Kirtland AFB, N.M., audits led to an upgraded energy management control system that is expected to save $3.7 million over the lifetime of the system.

The Air Force leads the Department of Defense as the number one producer and user of renewable energy. More than six percent of our electric supply comes from on-base renewable energy projects including wind, solar, geothermal, and landfill gas.

In fiscal 2012, the Air Force spent $9.2 billion on energy. The ability to change the Air Force culture and develop a new mindset when it comes to energy depends on its people.

"Every gallon of fuel and watt of electricity we save allows us to have more resources to meet other Air Force priorities," said Kathleen Ferguson, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Logistics.

"Each individual can - and must - contribute," Stacey said. "No matter how small or how large the action, people will ultimately make the difference. Take a moment to turn off lights and appliances when not in use; make saving energy and water a habit every day; and encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to do their part as well."

Take "ACTION" during Energy Awareness Month. The ACTION acronym stands for: Appliance reduction; Computer log off; Temperature set points; Inform facility managers; Outdoor conservation; and No waste. These are steps that can yield positive results for the community and the Air Force.

· Appliance reduction - Look around the workspace. Is there a refrigerator or coffee maker in the work area? How many personal appliances can be removed or consolidated in common areas like the break room? Reducing energy usage by reducing the number of appliances and machines used can yield significant energy savings.

· Computer log off - Even though people are prohibited from turning off computers, computer users should log off at the end of the day. This ensures that computers will enter the energy-saving sleep mode. Before pulling out the Common Access Card and going home for the day, remember to log off. The Air Force information technology power management team estimates this action alone can save more than $10 million a year.

· Temperature Control - Climate control set points can have a major impact on energy use. Throughout Joint Base San Antonio, the set point for winter is between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and between 76 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Be familiar with your base's temperature set point policy. Heating and cooling systems are not perfect, so workspaces may not be at optimum comfort temperatures. Instead of increasing energy demand with space heaters or fans, dress appropriately for the temperature in your facility. If your building is too cool in the summer or too hot in the winter, the thermostat could be set incorrectly, which means the Air Force is wasting energy.

· Inform your facility manager - Report incorrect temperature set points, leaky faucets, blocked air vents, cracked windows and other problems to your facility manager or to civil engineering customer service.

· Outdoor conservation - If you notice a broken sprinkler head wasting water or area lights left on in a parking lot during the day, report it to your local Civil Engineer Customer Service.

· No waste - Don't turn a blind eye to problems. If you see something that doesn't need to be on, turn it off. If you see a problem, report it.

Take time to review daily routines to conserve energy and water. Empower others to take action. Every dollar saved on energy is a dollar that can be spent on Airmen, their readiness and the mission to "Fly, Fight, Win."

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(Editor's note: Adapted from an article by Jennifer Elmore, Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.)