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Air Force facility energy program celebrates successes, plans for future

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Elmore
  • Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency
Do motion detectors control the lights in your building? Does the air conditioner seem to work better these days?

Perhaps you can now look out the window and see a large wind turbine generating power for your base. In 2009, the Air Force reduced the amount of energy used per square foot (i.e., energy intensity) by 13 percent from a 2003 baseline, by making energy efficient upgrades to facilities and building renewable energy projects. Installations around the world saved energy by overhauling heating and air conditioning systems, replacing roofs with "cool" technologies, retrofitting lights, and decentralizing heat plants. In addition, nine new renewable energy projects were constructed across the Air Force.

"The Air Force continues to stay ahead of energy program goals," said Rick Stacey, director of the Air Force Facility Energy Center, a division of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency here. "However, we recognize that future energy improvements will be tougher to attain. So beginning in fiscal 2010, the AFFEC staff is centrally managing the Air Force-wide facilities energy program. We will evaluate all viable opportunities and identify the very best measures for implementation."

The Air Force added to its renewable energy portfolio in 2009 by constructing a solar array at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, that produces enough energy to power 30 homes. New solar arrays are also in operation at Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif.; Toledo ANGB, Ohio; Camp Perry ANGB, Ohio; McGuire AFB, N.J.; and Eglin AFB, Fla. Two Air Force wind turbines were also installed this year: a 2-megawatt wind turbine at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; and a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at the Massachusetts Military Reservation. In the coming year, AFFEC officials will invest $1 million to assess all Air Force installations in the continental United States to identify and conduct feasibility studies for new renewable energy projects.

With the start of the 2010 fiscal year comes a pivotal time in the facility energy program. Air Force officials set aside $250 million in operations and maintenance dollars for each of the next six years (2010 through 2015) to help meet congressionally mandated energy conservation, water conservation, and renewable energy goals. AFFEC officials established the Capital Investment Program Management Office in 2009 to focus on the execution of that money and develop the Facility Energy Capital Investment Strategy.

"To achieve the mandated energy reduction goals, the Capital Investment Strategy targets very specific levels of investment to achieve energy and water conservation and an expanded use of renewable energy projects," said Col. Max Kirschbaum, the AFCESA commander.

The $2.3 billion capital investment strategy focuses on the following areas: energy conservation, energy-related facility audits, third-party contract buyouts, water conservation, and renewable energy projects. AFFEC engineers and energy experts say investing in these areas will enable the Air Force to meet key energy mandates and goals set for 2015:
-- Reduce facility energy intensity by 30 percent. 
-- Reduce potable water usage by 16 percent. 
-- Increase on-base renewable energy to 3 percent of all electricity. 
-- Increase renewable energy to 10.5 percent of all electricity.