Science and Technology News

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Airmen working to reduce energy footprint by 2015

by Tech. Sgt. Francesca Popp
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

5/26/2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Air Force officials set a goal in 2005 to reduce the energy facilities use by 2 percent. In 2007, officials modified these goals to an annual 3 percent reduction through 2015. Likewise, water-use reduction actions were initiated in 2008 to reduce water consumption by 2 percent each year until 2015.

The resulting 30 percent reduction of energy use and 16 percent drop in water consumption is a part of Executive Order 13423, which requires all Department of Defense services to reduce facility energy and water use.

In line with this directive, U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials are taking steps to reduce the energy footprint throughout the command. One of the key programs USAFE officials are seeking out is the use of more energy efficient vehicles.

"The Air Force goal is to have 35 percent of its vehicle fleet be energy efficient by fiscal 2015," said Master Sgt. Rich Haines, who is assigned to the USAFE command fleet management support. "USAFE is in line with that goal, and currently 12 percent, about 700 commercial light duty vehicles, of the 7,500 vehicle fleet use alternative fuels or are energy efficient."

Nearly 60 percent of the command's fleet is made up of commercial light-duty vehicles such as sedans, six-passenger trucks, sport utility vehicles, etc., which require using high amounts of diesel or unleaded fuel. However, by 2015 USAFE officials should have 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles that use alternative fuels or are fuel efficient in the fleet.

"We're right-sizing the vehicle fleet," Sergeant Haines said. "There are some authorizations out there that are larger than what they should be. For example, a half-ton pickup should be a compact vehicle. By right-sizing, we're reducing the amount of fuel consumed, and the end result will be a reduction in fuel costs."

Airmen service each vehicle in the fleet regularly to keep its inventory as energy efficient as possible, but they need each user to help reduce the fuel footprint by avoiding idling and identifying appropriate size vehicles for the mission.

"There is no silver bullet on how to reduce the footprint for vehicles," said Master Sgt. Eric Kuhns, the USAFE command vehicle management manager. "There are multiple alternatives we can investigate and try, like (using) compressed natural gas, propane, ethanol, electric vehicles, biodiesel and hybrids. The manufacturers are coming on board with all this since technology has improved. As demand grows across America and there is enough supply in the market place to use these types of vehicles, the overall cost will go down (for all vehicles) from the heavy equipment to the light duty."

As the infrastructure becomes available, whether it's plug-in stations or alternate fuel outlets, the fleet will eventually be replaced with more energy efficient vehicles, Sergeant Kuhns said.

In addition to making the vehicle fleet more energy efficient, other energy initiatives throughout USAFE, like reducing water consumption and using solar energy, are being implemented.

"USAFE met the water consumption reduction goal in fiscal 2008, but missed it by a hair in 2009," said Jennifer Cooper, the USAFE command energy manager for facilities. "We're working toward meeting the fiscal 2010 goal of 6 percent."

An example of USAFE's water conservation efforts is the waste water reuse project at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, which uses treated waste water to irrigate the golf course. This project not only helps USAFE meet its goal, but also saves the Air Force $377,000 annually in water and wastewater discharge costs.

Besides water, the command is taking a proactive approach to meet Air Force officials' goal of reducing energy use by 15 percent for fiscal 2010, said Todd Grimes, the USAFE chief of civil engineer operations.

"We've reduced how much energy we've used in our facilities since 1983," Mr. Grimes said. "We missed the mark in fiscal 2009 by a fraction of a percent toward the energy use reduction goal and are working to get back on track."

Another initiative to put these plans in to action is using solar energy. For example, solar panels were installed on billeting facilities at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, to supplement the energy used to heat the water. A solar array is also planned for Moron Air Base, Spain. Once complete, it will provide a third of the energy needed to power the Air Force-side of the installation.

There are many more energy efficiency and energy reduction projects underway or planned for the near future. Together, these projects will help USAFE and Air Force officials reach their goals.

(Master Sgt. Corey Clements and Senior Airman Scott Saldukas contributed to this story)

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