Commentary by Lt. Col. Clark Risner
23rd Space Operations Support Squadron commander
Last month we observed the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and the 138th Anniversary of Arbor Day. The Air Force has mandated that every uniformed and civilian member receive energy awareness training. Air Force Space Command has developed monthly mottos to increase energy awareness…May’s is “Save Water, Save Energy, Save the Future.”
So why all the emphasis on energy? According to the Department of Energy’s 2008 Annual Energy Review, 61 percent of the nation’s energy demand was in the Industrial and Electrical Power sectors. With an annual energy budget of nearly $20B, DoD accounts for 80 percent of the government’s energy consumption. Our reliance on fossil fuels is evident in a $1.3 billion annual cost increase when the price of oil increases by $10/barrel…as I type, the year-change for a barrel of oil is $35.48. You do the math!
The department is aggressively attacking this mission threat the same way we attack any other enemy. Each of the services is pursuing innovative technologies and approaches to decrease energy costs. Some examples include solar and wind farms; coating deployment tents in foam; and bio-fuels for vehicles. In fact, last month the Air Force flew an A-10 for the first time using a biomass-based fuel.
New Boston AFS is leading AFSPC in similar endeavors. Team BOSS has developed a four-tiered approach to energy management: 1) Space Utilization and Demolition/Consolidation; 2) Geothermal heating and cooling systems 3) Efficient lighting, which includes LED; compact and T-8 fluorescent lighting; and Induction lighting; and 4) Alternative energy production. With 50 NOG/CC direction, we are applying this approach at three geographically distinct sites: NBAFS, NH (“BOSS”), Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station, HI (“HULA”), and Thule AB, GL (“POGO”).
NBAFS has 29 facilities with active utilities. By aggressively eliminating under-utilized buildings and consolidating into more efficient construction, our “unused footprint” is now 1,650 sq-ft of 121,400 total (1.4 percent). We have projects to eliminate another 10,500 sq-ft structure with a demolition and consolidating its operations into another facility. This approach reduces wasted space and eliminates utility dollars spent on heating, cooling, and lighting.
About six months ago, we installed our first geothermal system, a ground-source heat pump, at our fitness center and are funded for GSHPs at two other facilities. The energy savings for the first three months of operation (Jan — Mar ‘10) totaled 469,000,000 BTUs! The long-term energy, maintenance, and manpower cost-savings payback is less than five years! An additional benefit of transitioning to this technology is the ability to eliminate our fuel oil bunkers, which translates to less market price and environmental vulnerability.
Team BOSS is also leading the way with our aggressive lighting plan. Inside, we have swapped old, inefficient fluorescents with new T-8 fixtures and replaced 67W incandescent recessed canisters with 15W LED fixtures…a one-year payback! Outside, we replaced High Pressure Sodium lamps (250W) with LED wallpacks (60W). Finally, we are exploring the benefits of induction lighting. Induction lights cost about as much as LEDs, produce about 30 percent more lumens per watt, and last 100,000 hrs compared to the typical LED claim of 50,000 hrs. That’s more than 11 years of 24/7 operation! Consider the cost savings at a place like POGO where you have months of 24-hours of darkness.
Finally, we are exploring multiple avenues of renewable energy. Our partnership with Team HULA created a project to install power meters for consumption analysis, two 5kW wind turbines, a 5kW solar farm, and solar hot water tanks. These simple additions hold great promise since HULA gets ample sun, but has exceptionally high electricity costs. At BOSS we are planning for two 5kW vertical-axis wind turbines and a 65kW solar farm roof to cover a parking lot.
Enough about Team BOSS…back to the title of this commentary. What is the cost of saving energy? Since we eventually will reach a payback point on all of our initiatives, the true cost is changing individual awareness and behavior. I challenge every member of Team Schriever to start with the basics…turn off lights when you leave a room (or don’t turn them on if your office has windows and it’s a sunny day), carpool once a week, etc. Once the basics are second nature, take the next step and look for unique opportunities to save energy. It all adds up!