Air Force top energy expert receives prestigious award

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The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service presented Dr. Kevin Geiss, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for energy, with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) Oct. 3.   

The Sammies have earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious awards dedicated to honoring America’s civil servants.  All nine recipients were honored at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. for their achievements that improved the lives of countless Americans and others around the world.   

“Smart, dedicated and driven public servants are making contributions that change the world for the better and the Service to America Medals are a powerful reminder of the good that government does every day,” said Max Stier, the Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “We will never get what we want out of our government if its successes aren’t identified, celebrated and replicated.”

Dr. Geiss received the Management Excellence Medal, which recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government. Within the past three years, nominees demonstrated exemplary leadership and management excellence to advance a significant accomplishment within his or her particular government field that was innovative and high impact, and met a critical need for the nation.

“No single individual has had more influence and impact in improving the Air Force’s energy posture than Dr. Kevin Geiss,” said Kathleen Ferguson, the acting Air Force installations, environment and logistics assistant secretary.

The Air Force is the largest single consumer of energy in the federal government, spending almost $10 billion a year on fuel and electricity. The energy bill constitutes nearly 10 percent of the Air Force budget.

Under Geiss’ leadership, the Air Force was recognized as the Pentagon’s top alternative energy user.

Although energy prices keep rising and costs have increased, the aviation initiatives instituted by the Air Force during Geiss’s tenure surpassed the Air Force goal of lowering fuel consumption by 10 percent by 2015, achieving a 12 percent reduction in 2012 -- almost $1.2 billion in avoided costs -- compared to 2006. Related efforts also led to lowered energy consumption at Air Force facilities in 2012, avoiding $300 million in utility costs, compared to 2003.

In addition, Geiss oversaw the Air Force achieving 51 megawatts of renewable energy generation at 56 installations and the institution of a program to reduce extra fuel carried by transport aircraft while maintaining safety standards, resulting in annual savings of five million gallons of fuel a year. He championed alternative fuels, including the certification of the entire Air Force fleet for unrestricted operations using 50/50 blends of traditional military jet fuel and synthetic or hydro treated jet fuel derived from renewable biomass.

“Energy is critical to everything we do in the Air Force,” Geiss said. “Yet, meeting that need comes at a significant cost.  We know becoming more energy efficient can free up dollars for other priorities without compromising mission success.”

The finalists’ achievements range from new discoveries in space, improved hurricane forecasting,the first-ever use of genome sequencing to help stop the spread of deadly hospital-acquired infections,  reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing new approaches to treat drug addiction and helping small businesses get capital to grow and create jobs.

The Service to America Medal recipients were chosen by a committee that included leaders from government, academia, the private sector, the media and the philanthropic community.

Renamed the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals in 2010 to commemorate the organization’s founder, the program has honored more than 400 outstanding federal employees since its inception in 2002. More information about the program and the 2013 finalists’ achievements is available at  

(Information courtesy of  Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)