'Multidimensional' approach to energy initiative Published Sept. 24, 2012 By Senior Airman Tabitha Haynes Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A panel of energy experts met at the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 17 to discuss the service's progress in meeting the Defense Department's energy goals. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy Dr. Kevin Geiss said the service is taking a multidimensional approach to ensure the energy initiative is effective, focusing on lowering energy cost, increasing energy capabilities and a culture change. "We don't care about energy for energy's sake -- we care about how it handles the mission of the Air Force," Geiss said, "that is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace." With about $9 billion per year in aviation fuel and facilities costs, the Air Force, Geiss said, is the largest energy consumer in the Department of Defense; however, the Air Force energy intensity is currently down 16 percent. "We are investing about $250 million a year specifically on energy efficiency," Geiss said, of the initiative called the Energy Focus Fund. "We have seen a significant impact of these investments." According to retired Lt. Col. Lucian L. Niemeyer, a staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Air Force seeks investments that have a direct impact on the warfighter, whether through more efficient engines or more efficient facilities. "Any dollar saved in energy is a dollar we can provide somewhere else in the fight," Niemeyer said. Each branch's energy awareness strides support the Defense Department's overall goals, one panelist explained. "Not only does the Defense Department have renewable energy goals, [but] each of the services has a goal to establish 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025," retired Col. Richard Fryer of Environmental Consultants + Contractors Inc. "We currently have 6 percent of our total electricity that comes from renewable alternative sources in fiscal year 2011," said Geiss. "That is 131 projects, across 56 installations, giving us 37 [megawatts] of total production." Retired Col. Geoffrey Prosch, director of federal government relations, Johnson Controls, Inc., described how the Air Force is weaving renewable energy into its culture with an hour-by-hour display of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified SMART facility. LEED facilities, he added, have begun construction on Air Force bases as part of the energy initiative. The initiatives take place beyond the gates of the Air Force installations as branch partnerships continue to develop. Wind turbines at the Massachusetts Military Reservation are projected to save the Air Force $1 billion per year, Geiss said, citing an example of Airmen partnering with the Army to make an impact. Ultimately, Niemeyer said, energy awareness is about "focusing investments on where there is a direct impact (to the warfighter)." October is Federal Energy Action Month, and this year's theme is "I am Air Force Energy," giving Airmen the opportunity to take action and ask questions about energy efficiency in their community. The Air Force is also working with Air Education Training Command to include energy awareness training into each career field. For more information about the Air Force's energy initiatives visit http://www.af.mil/energyinitiatives/index.asp.