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Air Force aims to invigorate energy efficiency programs

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jess D. Harvey
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
The deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy spoke to a group of industry and civic leaders, and a handful of international military partners, about the service's energy saving initiatives at the Air Force Association's monthly breakfast Oct. 17 in Crystal City, Va.

Dr. Kevin T. Geiss pointed out that October is Energy Action Month. The theme is "I am Air Force Energy," a mantra that will be emphasized throughout the next year as the Air Force aims to invigorate its energy efficiency initiatives.

The theme was designed to communicate that "we all have a role, whatever your job is across the Air Force," said Geiss. Every part of the Air Force mission, from administration to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to humanitarian assistance, medical evacuations and space operations rely on energy.

Last year, the Air Force spent $9.7 billion on energy, which includes more than 2.5 billion gallons of aviation fuel.

"We haven't gotten the final numbers for fiscal year 2012, but we're pretty sure it's going to be larger than last year's bill," said Geiss. And that's why Air Force leadership is putting so much emphasis on this topic.

"We, as the Air Force, don't care about energy for energy's sake," said Geiss. "We care about energy because it enables every element of the Air Force mission. In order to be successful, we must have assured access to a reliable supply of energy and the ability to protect and deliver that energy to meet those mission essential requirements. Energy is also a key element to the Air Force's broader modernization efforts."

He said reducing the force's energy consumption levels is a must if it wants to continue modernizing and providing new capabilities while also meeting the budgetary restraints facing the Department of Defense.

"To address this challenge, we in the Air Force have developed four priorities:" improve energy resiliency, reduce energy demand, assure energy supply and foster an energy aware culture, said Geiss.

Improving energy resiliency focuses on improving infrastructure while also finding new, more reliable ways to deliver energy, including microgrids and more efficient energy storage options that would give the Air Force more controlled access to energy. Microgrids are energy networks that deliver locally-produced power to smaller geographic regions.

The Air Force is focused on reducing the amount of energy it uses in every mission, from flying sorties to office spaces, said Geiss.

"We're changing the way we fly to reduce the amount of fuel we're using, and we're building more efficient facilities across the Air Force," said Geiss. To assure supply, the Air Force is certifying aircraft to fly using alternative fuels and partnering with private industry to develop better solar, wind and other types of renewable energy sources. Because of this, the Air Force is currently the second highest user of renewable energy across the entire federal government, just behind the Department of Energy.

But the success to the entire suite of energy initiatives relies on the fourth priority, fostering an energy-aware culture, which is basically, as Geiss put it, as simple as helping Airmen be energy conscious all the time.

"Getting Airmen to understand how to incorporate energy into their jobs and office environments will have a big impact, but that's just one part," said Geiss. "There's also a role they can play at home, especially if they live on base."

To find out more about what the Air Force is doing to save energy, follow @AFenergy on Twitter, visit the "Air Force Energy" page on Facebook, said Geiss.